Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes: Charlie Hills team confidant Mutasaabeq can break Group One duck at Newbury

Mutasaabeq will bid to break his Group One duck in Saturday’s Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes at Newbury, with confidant connections his rivals “will have to go some to beat him”.

The Charlie Hills-trained five-year-old defied a penalty to beat last year’s Irish 2,000 Guineas winner Native Trail in the bet365 Mile, which was switched to Newmarket’s Guineas meeting after heavy rain forced Sandown’s card to be abandoned the previous week.

The Shadwell Estates-owned Mutasaabeq, who registered a fourth win at Rowley Mile course, was one of 16 horses confirmed for the Lockinge on Monday.

Angus Gold, Shadwell’s racing manager, believes his victory in the Joel Stakes last September in first-time blinkers showed improvement and the signs are that he will continue to progress.

“He goes to the Lockinge. It was a nice performance last time. It didn’t surprise me that he stayed on well, because he looked like he wanted that (a mile) before,” said Gold.

“Obviously, you don’t go into a race like that thinking you are going to beat a Guineas winner necessarily, but I was obviously really pleased with him.”

William Buick riding Modern Games to victory in the Grade One Woodbine Mile
William Buick riding Modern Games to victory in the Grade One Woodbine Mile

Winner of six of his 13 starts, Mutasaabeq seeks a hat-trick after back-to-back Group Two victories.

He could take on Ralph Beckett’s dual Group One winner Angel Bleu, Sun Chariot runner-up Laurel, Breeders’ Cup Mile winner Modern Games and Champion Stakes third My Prospero in what is shaping up to be an excellent renewal, although Inspiral is a notable absentee .

Gold feels match fitness should benefit the son of Invincible Spirit, adding: “All being well, if he turns up in the same sort of form he was at Newmarket, they will all have to go some to beat him.

“Certainly the early signs – and though it is only one run so far – are that his behavior was much better. He is a much more mature and relaxed horse and he was heading very much the right way the other day.

“The blinkers certainly didn’t seem to do him any harm.”