Timeform highlight three horses to note on Lockinge day at Newbury on Saturday - with the highest-rated horse of no surprise.
Palace Pier – 15:35 Newbury
With a top-class rating of 132, Palace Pier is currently Timeform’s highest-rated horse in Europe and that gives him at least 10 lb in hand on ratings as he returns to Group 1 company in the Lockinge Stakes. He warmed up for the first big test of his four-year-old season when outclassing his three rivals in a Group 2 at Sandown just over three weeks ago, winning by eight lengths from the reopposing Bless Him and Happy Power. Palace Pier’s only defeat to date came when finishing third to French gelding The Revenant in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot on his final outing last season but he is better judged on his earlier Group 1 wins in the St James’s Palace Stakes, when he beat both placed horses from the 2000 Guineas, and the Prix Jacques le Marois, in which he and the Coronation Stakes winner Alpine Star pulled well clear of their older rivals. With Lord Glitters the only other Group 1 winner in this field, Palace Pier should prove hard to beat.
Sea Empress – 16:10 Newbury
No fewer than six of the eight fillies in this listed contest are the winners of their only starts and two of them, Twisted Reality and Sea Empress, were given Timeform’s ‘large P’ symbol after making particularly impressive winning debuts at Nottingham and Newcastle respectively at the back-end of last season. Sea Empress looked an exciting prospect for William Haggas at Newcastle as she and fellow debutant Teona pulled clear of the rest, Sea Empress making smooth headway to lead under two furlongs out and having a length in hand at the line after getting first run on the runner-up. Teona has gone on to do plenty for that form, returning to Newcastle the following month to win her maiden by nine lengths and then finishing third in the Musidora Stakes at York earlier this week. Teona is currently just ahead of Sea Empress in the Oaks betting, but that could change if Sea Empress is successful here in a race that her trainer won for the same owners with another daughter of Sea The Stars, Sea of Class, two years ago.
Highland Rocker - 15:00 Newbury
There are several progressive types representing top yards in the London Gold Cup and the one who makes most appeal is Highland Rocker for John & Thady Gosden whose stable remains in good form and went close to winning the Dante with Megallan earlier this week. Highland Rocker makes his handicap debut here after readily getting off the mark in a novice contest at Ripon last time when looking much more clued-up than in his first two races. The runner-up in that race, Silver Gunn, has won a handicap himself since then, and Highland Rocker’s earlier form is looking strong too. In fact, he’d probably run his best race in defeat the time before when going down to Inigo Jones in a maiden at Chelmsford on his reappearance when the pair of them pulled 11 lengths clear of the third. The winner has since finished third to leading Derby hope Mohaafeth in a listed race at Newmarket so that was a useful effort from Highland Rocker, who had finished third to the future UAE Derby winner Rebel’s Romance on his debut at Kempton last term.