Declaration Of War looks to have the right credentials in Lockinge Stakes

Aidan O’Brien’s last win in Newbury’s Group one was 10 years ago

Aidan O’Brien: bids for Group One honours at Newbury.

Aidan O’Brien: bids for Group One honours at Newbury.

 

It is 10 years since Aidan O’Brien landed his sole Lockinge Stakes success to date with Hawk Wing but Declaration Of War boasts some impressive statistical credentials for bridging that gap at Newbury on Saturday.

Beaten on his first start for Ireland’s champion trainer last season, the highly-rated ex-French colt is otherwise unbeaten in five other starts, including when impressively scoring in the Heritage Stakes at Leopardstown last month.

Declaration Of War and his stable-companion Reply are among 13 entries left in the mile Group One after yesterday’s forfeit stage and the O’Brien number one is among a select-group at the top of the ante-post betting that also includes Cityscape and Godolphin’s Farhh.

Huge interest will centre on the latter on the back of Godolphin’s recent doping scandal but the Lockinge has always been Declaration Of War’s major early-season target.

O’Brien had to settle for the runner-up spot in last year’s renewal as Excelebration had the thankless task of chasing home Frankel, and it is the latter’s retirement that English trainer Roger Charlton is at least partly banking on for a Cityscape success.

The Dubai Group One winner carries the same Juddmonte colours as Frankel and Charlton reported yesterday: “Last year we had to avoid Frankel for obvious reasons and anyway wouldn’t have been within many lengths of him. But it meant we had to duck and dive and go abroad and it’s tough to travel horses.

“This year he has a clear run of things since Frankel retired and on official ratings I guess you could argue he is the best miler that remains in training in Europe, but there are other improving horses coming along, Declaration Of War is a good example, and we need to produce our best performance to try to win a Group One.”

In other news, the Derby favourite Dawn Approach hardened in some ante-post Epsom lists yesterday, despite the O’Brien team saddling four major Derby trial winners.

“There’s been no shortage of cash around for Dawn Approach. I don’t think he’ll match Camelot’s starting price of 8/13 last year but I do think he’ll go off shorter than his current odds on the day,” said Paddy Power who now goes 13/8 about the unbeaten Guineas winner.