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Thursday 14 May 2015

3.45 Newbury, Saturday, May 16

Six favourites and three second favourites have won the Lockinge Stakes in the last 10 years, so it hasn’t been a great race as far as this column is concerned. However, a new sponsorship deal with Al Shaqab Racing has resulted in increased prize money and more runners than ever before in the 57-year history of the race, so we live in hope!

The first one, and possibly the only one, that takes our eye this week is Tullius (25/1), who attempts to become the oldest horse ever to win the Lockinge Stakes. That isn’t totally beyond the realms of possibility because Andrew Balding’s 7-year-old has just a length to find with the favourite, Night Of Thunder, on their running in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot last October, is 3lb better off at the weights and possibly holds a fitness advantage over Richard Hannon’s charge, who has an absence of 210 days to overcome.

By contrast, Tullius has already run twice this season, winning the Listed Betway Doncaster Mile Stakes in workmanlike fashion on his reappearance in March before failing to stay 1 mile 2 furlongs (not for the first time in his career) in the Group 3 Bet365 Gordon Stakes at Sandown last month. The son of Le Vie Dei Colori is officially rated just 4lb inferior to Night Of Thunder and, while all his wins on turf have come on good or softer going, he finished second in this race last year on good to firm going, so he should run his race whatever the weather in the South East.

The statistics are firmly against him, in terms of age, class and odds but, in the fervent hope that he doesn’t read this column, Tullius is just too long to resist at 25/1 with Bet365, Boylesports, Sporting Bet and Stan James.

Selection: Newbury 3.45 Tullius (25/1) to win