Frankel to face 8 Lockinge rivals

Frankel is the star name among nine confirmations for the JLT Lockinge Stakes at Newbury on Saturday.

Unbeaten in nine starts to date, Henry Cecil’s colt is the world’s highest rated racehorse and while he suffered an injury scare early last month, he is all set to make his eagerly anticipated four-year-old debut this weekend.

He is set to be joined by his stablemate and regular work companion Bullet Train.

Frankel’s biggest danger appears to hail from Aidan O’Brien’s Ballydoyle yard.

Excelebration chased home Frankel three times when trained by Marco Botti last year, winning his other three starts.

He made a fine start for his new trainer when winning last month’s Gladness Stakes at the Curragh.

O’Brien has also left in multiple Group One winner So You Think, but has confirmed he is highly unlikely to take part.

“We gave him a bit of a break after Dubai and we’ll wait a bit longer with him,” said the trainer,.

“He’ll probably run in the Tattersalls Gold Cup at the Curragh (May 27).”

The Ballydoyle team have a third entry in likely pacemaker Windsor Palace, who shocked stablemate St Nicholas Abbey in the Mooresbridge Stakes last time out.

Champion trainer Richard Hannon has both Dubawi Gold and Strong Suit in the mix, while Charlie Hills has entered Saturday’s Haydock winner Red Jazz along with Ransom Note.

* Aidan O’Brien has warned Ernest Hemingway will only run in Thursday’s Betfred Dante Stakes at York if conditions are deemed suitable.

The Galileo colt won by a full 10 lengths on his only start to date at Dundalk and is a best priced 25-1 for the Investec Derby at Epsom next month.

* Johnny Murtagh believes Vow is a “live contender” for next month’s Investec Oaks following her impressive Lingfield victory on Saturday.

The daughter of Motivator overcame greenness to make an impressive racecourse debut at Newbury in April and while she still looked inexperienced, she took a step up to Listed class in her stride in the Betfred-sponsored Oaks Trial.

She is now a best-priced 5-1 to give Murtagh and trainer William Haggas their second successive Oaks victory following Dancing Rain’s all-the-way win last year.

“She won very well, it was only her second run and when she got to the front she was a little bit green still,” said Murtagh.

“But there’s plenty to look at in Lingfield, she ducked away from the big screen and ducked away from the crowd.

“I think the experience of that will bring her on a lot and she feels like a very high-class filly.

“She ran very green the first day, she wasn’t able to travel at all but she stayed on really well.

“I think a mile and a half won’t be any problem and she stepped up quite a bit (from first run to second). If she can improve again to the Oaks, she could be a live contender.

“She seems pretty balanced and I think she’d prefer grass to all-weather. She’s got a nice action.

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