'˜Special' Ribchester delights Richard Fahey with Lockinge Stakes triumph at Newbury

IT speaks volumes about the emphatic manner of Ribchester's victory in the Group One Lockinge Stakes that Richard Fahey hailed his stable star as 'the best horse I've ever trained'.

Ribchester ridden by William Buick leads the field home to win The Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes at Newbury. Picture : Julian Hebert/PA Wire

This was a victory at Newbury which confirmed the colt’s status as the best four-year-old miler in Britain – and next month’s Queen Anne Stakes, the opening race of Royal Ascot, now looks the obvious target.

Yet it also demonstrated the horse’s growing maturity.

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When stablemate Toscanini, the supposed pacemaker, missed the break, Ribchester’s jockey William Buick was happy to dictate terms from the front, maintaining a strong gallop to score by three-and-three-quarter lengths from Lightning Spear with old rival Galileo Gold not handling the testing conditions.

Trainer Richard Fahey

Though Malton-based Fahey has enjoyed Group One success with horses like Wootton Bassett and Mayson, the trainer has always held Ribchester – owned by Sheikh Mohammed’s Godolphin operation – in the highest regard.

“I was quite nervous today – I don’t do nerves but it was a big day and you want to perform and, thank God, he did,” said Fahey after Ribchester’s career earnings passed the £1.5m barrier.

“It was a huge performance. We felt that there was one in him and it has all come together.

“Mentally, Ribchester is maturer and getting better physically. It’s a huge relief for me because I have always been ranting and raving about this horse. He got beat in the Sussex and was third in the 2000 Guineas last year but we always felt that he would get stronger.

Trainer Richard Fahey

“Today has to be one of the best performances of a horse from our place – Ribchester is special.”

On future plans, the relentlessly ambitious Fahey added: “If you don’t want to win everything, don’t do it. We’ll see how he comes out of this, but the Queen Anne looks likely. If we could get his mind right we always felt he’d be special.

“That’s a strong word for a trainer to use but when you see a performance like that, it was special.

“I’ve got to say he’s the best horse I’ve ever trained.”

The aforementioned Buick, a former graduate of Doncaster’s Northen Racing College, was enjoying a Group-race double thanks to last year’s Eclipse hero Hawkbill, trained by Charlie Appleby, who bounced back to his best with a comprehensive victory in the Al Rayyan Stakes.

It provided some compensation for the rider who was handed a five-day ban by the York stewards after guiding the Appleby-trained Alqamar to victory in the Dante festival’s concluding contest.

The suspension rules the rider out of the Epsom Derby meeting unless any appeal is successful. If it had been four days, Buick would have had some discretion on the timing his ban,

However the jockey was simply happy to let his riding do the talking after the Lockinge win.

“Ribchester is a very good horse and very versatile,” he said.

“He is just getting mentally better and physically stronger with every day that goes by.

“You would have to be very happy with that performance. He was in front the whole way basically and the ground is very testing. I am very, very happy to ride him.

“If you are going to compete in these G1 races and be successful, you have to be the complete package.

“The team at home have helped him become the complete package, which he is now.”