The first major test of the European season for older horses at a mile is the Lockinge Stakes at Newbury in May. The race was first run in 1958 and Godolphin is its leading owner, winning the race a record eight times.
The first winner to carry the royal blue to victory in 1998 was the Saeed bin Suroor-trained Cape Cross, who made all the running to win by a neck under jockey Daragh O’Donohoe. Although Cape Cross failed to win another G1 (he was also victorious in the Queen Anne Stakes when it was a G2 contest), he had already achieved enough to earn his place at Kildangan Stud in 2000.
Cape Cross quickly hit the mark as a stallion, siring the great Ouija Board in his first crop, whose seven G1 triumphs included a brace of Oaks and two victories at the Breeders’ Cup. Off the back of her outstanding success, he was visited by the great Urban Sea in 2005. Already the dam of Derby winner Galileo, the resultant progeny from her mating with Cape Cross was the truly exceptional Sea The Stars.
Cape Cross remained one of Ireland’s premier stallions, covering 17 seasons at Kildangan Stud. In 2015, he sired his second Derby winner, the John Gosden-trained Golden Horn. The winner of four G1s, Golden Horn was rated the World’s best turf runner as a three-year-old and he is currently covering his fifth season at Dalham Hall Stud.
Just two boxes down from Golden Horn at Dalham Hall is the winner of the 2013 running of the Lockinge Stakes, the stunning Farhh. Like Cape Cross, he was trained by Saeed bin Suroor, going unbeaten in three of his four seasons to race. After winning at Newbury by four lengths, he had one further start in 2013 when beating Cirrus Des Aigles and Ruler Of The World in a vintage Champion Stakes.
Again like Cape Cross, his reputation as a stallion continues to rise year by year. His small first crop included six Stakes winners including Royal Ascot G2 heroine Move Swiftly, plus Derby second Dee Ex Bee. From his second crop came last season’s G1 Queen Elizabeth II Stakes winner King Of Change. Few stallions can match Farhh’s 11% Stakes winners to foals.
Godolphin triumphed in the Lockinge Stakes three years in a row from 2015 onwards, all of whom are covering in 2020 at Cape Cross’s long-time home Kildangan Stud.
Returning to Ireland after two seasons at Dalham Hall is Night Of Thunder, the winner in 2015 for trainer Richard Hannon. The 2,000 Guineas hero has made a tremendous start at stud, recording one of the best ever initial seasons with no fewer than seven Stakes winners.
He joins two exciting young stallions whose first runners will hit the track over the next couple of seasons.
Belardo, winner of the 2016 renewal, will see his first crop of 92 sons and daughters on the racecourse in 2020. Trained by Roger Varian, Belardo was crowned European Champion two-year-old in 2014 after a thrilling victory in the Darley Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket.
A year behind Belardo is the four-time G1 winner Ribchester. Trained by Richard Fahey, Ribchester’s dominance of the 2017 miling division began at Newbury when never seeing another rival to beat Lightning Spear by three-and-three-quarter lengths.