Audience runs away with the Lockinge in a surprise turn up for the books

By Peter Moore at Newbury  Saturday 18th May 2024

There was a big upset on Al Shaqab Lockinge Day when the big race of the day the 9Group 1 Lockinge Stakes was won by outsider Audience at 22-1 ridden by Robert Havlin for John & Thady Gosden.

Audience, the horse kept in training in Britain to aid his better-known stablemate Inspiral in her work at home, became the latest front-runner to cause a major upset in the Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes. 

Stabelmate Inspiral was expected to run the better of the two Gosden’s charges having won six Group 1 races, however Havlin decided to make the pace straight from the start and never looked back with nobody catching the five year old.

Travelling easily two furlongs out and with a big lead already banked, Havlin asked for more but the damage was already done and he was always holding the runner-up Charyn in the closing stages. 

“I thought it was a false start when I got to the two-furlong pole,” said Havlin, celebrating only his second win at the top level and as shocked as the crowd that he was so far clear with just a quarter of a mile left. 

“He’s always been hugely talented but has just been a little bit of a wayward child. He’s been a five-year project but we’ve got there in the end. He’s worked us out and we’ve worked him out. Last year he would never have got a mile, he was like a bull in a china shop and angry in the stalls, but he’s better now and gave himself a breather today. 

“You’ve just got to let him get on with it and we don’t try to organise him. We’ve learned through experience to let him do what he wants. Towards the end he tried to run around a little bit, he can go left and right, but he’s super talented and I still think we’re yet to see the best of him.” added the two time Grade 1 winning jockey who rode his first Grade 1 winner in 2022 with Commissioning.

“Audience is a wild boy but he’s always had ability said Gosden. He’s learned to relax more with age and, if you leave a horse like that alone, he’s very dangerous. He’s a grand horse and Mrs Thompson [winning owner] kindly kept him in training rather than him going to Hong Kong in order for him to be a lead horse to Inspiral, so I think he’s covered himself in glory.”

It was a good day for the Gosden’s who started the day off with a winner in the opener after Oisin Murphy steered Middle Earth to victory over King Of Conquest by a nose.

Northern trainer Karl Burke continued his impressive form of late after bagging his sixth and seventh winner in the past fortnight after Elite Status won the Class 1 Highclere Castle Gin Carnarvon Stakes run over six furlongs with Lethal Levi following gup in the HKJC World Pool Handicap later in the day.

Both horses were ridden by Clifford Lee who is having a profitable season as stable jockey to the Leyburn yard.

Ralph Beckett’s yard have been slowly into their stride, but that is now changing with the Kimpton Down yard producing its eighth winner in the past 14 days when Sonny Liston prevailed in the one mile handicap with Rossa Ryan on board.

Despite previously having just one win to his name, he had performed well on several occasions last year in big handicaps, including runner up in the Royal Hunt Cup last summer.

The gelding was ninth in this event a year ago, but this time around was always travelling well and went on to get his head in front by two and a half lengths from Metal Merchant.