GBI RACING

Rhododendron foils Lightning Spear in Lockinge Stakes thriller

Ryan Moore drives Rhododendron to victory at Newbury (Tim Goode/PA)

Rhododendron gave Aidan O’Brien a second victory in the Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes following a thrilling finish to the Group One showpiece over a mile at Newbury.

Lightning Spear looked like he just about hit the front under Oisin Murphy and was about to spring a 16-1 surprise, but Ryan Moore had hit top gear aboard Rhododendron (100-30 favourite) in the centre of the course.

There was only a short head between them at them line and it condemned Lightning Spear to second place in the race for the second year running.

Lancaster Bomber, also trained by O’Brien, who won with Hawk Wing in 2003, was two and three-quarter lengths away in third.

O’Brien said: “We’ve been very happy with her since the last day and we were hoping she had progressed.

“Obviously we were going back to a mile and she hadn’t been back there since she ran in the Guineas last year.

“We thought that whatever she did today she would move up a bit.”

Looking to future plans, he said: “We thought we would come here and then on to Ascot.

“We have the option of a mile or a mile and a quarter. We’ll have a good chat with Ryan, the lads always talk after the races and we’ll see what they want to do closer to Ascot.”

Moore said: “She’s been a great filly at two, three and now four. It’s testament to everyone who puts in the hard work at home. She’s been unfortunate not to have won more in her time.

“She’s very adaptable with ground, distance and has got a great attitude.”

Lightning Spear’s trainer, David Simcock, said: “I haven’t had the wind taken out of my sails like that for a while.

“I’m just a little gutted, but very proud of the horse. He was given a great ride – I thought he was going to win at one stage.

“We’re just fond of him and he’s never let us down. He’s been placed in so many Group Ones, you just feel we’d like to have won one with him, but he’s run a great race.

“They finished a good two lengths clear of the third. Fair play to the filly.

“I would say we’ll go to the Queen Anne. It’s the obvious place to go.”

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