The feature race on a cracking card at Newbury on Saturday is the Group 1 Lockinge Stakes (15:40), a 1m contest for horses aged four years or older which has a prestigious roll of honour.
Top Irish trainer Aidan O’Brien saddled Rhododendron to last the spoils 12 months ago, and saddles two in this year’s renewal in the shape of I Can Fly and Le Brivido.
The latter is the clear pick of the duo and looks a worthy 7/2 favourite with Betway to capture this valuable prize having shaped really well on seasonal reappearance.
This ex-French trained five-year-old has only had six career starts, winning three times and making the frame on two other occasions.
She ran a stormer when beaten just a short-head by Branmetot in the 2017 French 1000 Guineas at Deauville, before going on to enjoy her finest hour when landing the Group 1 Jersey Stakes over 7f at Royal Ascot when powering home to win going away by a length from Spirit Of Valour.
Injury then resulted in Le Brivio being on the sidelines for 302 days and she found 6f too sharp when a never nearer three-length sixth of eight to Brando in the Group 3 Abernant Stakes at Newmarket on her sole start in 2018.
She then moved to join O’Brien and, after rearing at the start, finished strongly from off the loaec to finish a never nearer 1 1/4 lengths third to Imaging in a Group 3 over 7f at Naas last month.
It was a highly encouraging comeback and Le Brivido looks sure to strip fitter for it. She will appreciate the step back up to a mile on ground which is ideal.
Laurens a formidable opponent
The Karl Burke trained Laurens, who can be backed at 11/2 with Ladbrokes, is a real tough cookie and proven top class performer who has a tremendous strike rate having won seven of her 10 starts.
She ran a blinder on seasonal reappearance last year when runner-up in the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket, before going on capture two Group 1 contests over 1m 2f in France.
Laurens the found 1m 4f beyond her when last of six in the Group 1 Yorkshire Oaks, but quickly bounced back when dropped back down to a mile and beating Jessica Harrington’s super filly Alpha Centauri by three-quarters of a length in the Group 1 Matron Stakes at Leopardstown.
The daughter of Siyouni then bagged another Group 1 when making virtually all and staying on gamely when challenged to beat Happily by a head in the Sun Chariot Stakes over the Rowley Mile at Newmarket.
Although Laurens was well-beaten on her final start of the campaign when eighth of 13 to Roaring Lion in the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot, the soft ground was against her that day and it may have been a case of one race too many after a long season.
She is officially the joint top-rated in this 14-runner line-up off 117, but receives a handy 3lb sex allowance and thus comes out clear top on adjusted figures.
So, with the trip and underfoot conditions ideal, there is simply nothing not to like about Lauren’s profile for this. She can always be relied on to give it her best shot and looks the obvious main danger to Le Brivido.
Beat The Bank primed for bold bid
A deep field also features Beat The Bank and Sharja Bridge, who dominated the finish of the bet365 Mile at Sandown last month.
It was the fourth Group 2 prize that the former has scooped, and the Andrew Balding trained five-year-old is attempting to emulate his sire Paco Boy who won the bet365 Mile in 2010 en route to landing this.
Beat The Bank did well to win at Sandown as he raced too keenly in the early stages. He looked likely to get collared when taking up the running inside the final furlong, but dug deep and found plenty to prevail by three-quarters of a length.
There is no reason why he should not confirm the form with the runner-up, and that rival also looked far from straightforward that day as he hung in and carried his head high when coming under pressure.
Beat The Bank also had form in the book last year which makes him a key contender in this, including when a 1 3/4 lengths sixth of 15 to Accidental Agent in the Group 1 Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot when not enjoying a clear passage.
His neck success over Lord Glitters in the Group 2 Summer Mile at the same venue also reads well. There is no doubt that Beat The Bank has the ability to capture a Group 1 and is 7/1 with William Hill for this.
A bold bid looks assured, but Beat The Bank may have to settle for place money as this looks a warmer renewal than 12 months ago when he trailed in a distant 11th of 15 to Rhododendron.
Lord Glitters an each-way player
The aforementioned Lord Glitters was arguably an unlucky loser in the Summer Mile won by Beat The Bank, so at 8/1 with Betfred makes plenty of each-way appeal.
Since landing the Balmoral Handicap at Ascot on British Champions Day in 2017, this David O’Meara trained six-year-old has been knocking at the door at the highest level and amassed £1,200,000 in prize money in the process.
The son of Whipper was beaten just half-a-length when runner-up to Accidental Agent in the Queen Anne at Royal Ascot last summer, where had he had Beat The Bank in-behind.
Lord Glitters also ran a cracker when third of eight to Lightning Spear in the Sussex Stakes at Goodwood where, after being held-up, he finished with a flourish to be nearest at the line and beaten just two lengths.
His string of excellent Group 1 efforts continued in late March this year when a 1 3/4 lengths third of 13 to Japanese superstar Almond Eye in the Dubai Turf at Meydan.
The form of those races command Lord Glitters the utmost respect in this, and he’s ideally suited by a strongly run race which this looks sure to be with the likes of Laurens in the line-up.
Lord Glitters also has an excellent record over the trip having won three times and been placed on five occasions from nine starts over it.
Jockey Danny Tudhope also gets a great tune out of him; so, if within striking distance at the furlong marker, the powerful finishing Lord Glitters is going to be a threat to all.
OpenOdds’ Lockinge Stakes shortlist
Le Brivido ✮✮✮✮✮
Lord Glitters ✮✮✮✰✰