Overnight rain puts participation of Lockinge favourite Inspiral in doubt

Overnight rain at Newbury has cast doubt over the participation of Inspiral in Saturday's Group 1 Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes.

Owned and bred by Cheveley Park Stud and trained by John and Thady Gosden, the six-time Group 1 winner has made her seasonal return at Royal Ascot for the past two seasons but connections have been working back from the Lockinge as a starting point this year. 

However, Inspiral suffered the heaviest defeat of her career on soft ground in last season's Sussex Stakes at Goodwood and, while the ground at Newbury was described only as good to soft on Tuesday morning following 10mm of rain overnight, further rain before Saturday would likely rule her out. 

"She had a nice, steady programme throughout the winter and spring and looks great, but we're obviously concerned about the ground for Saturday," said Chris Richardson, managing director of Cheveley Park Stud. 

"We've got to be realistic. She showed in the Sussex that she plainly doesn't go on ground that's not to her liking and this is going to be a watching brief. If they avoid the rain for the rest of the week we're obviously going to be tempted but if they were going to get more rain on Thursday, or whatever, I'd be concerned."  

George Hill, clerk of the course at Newbury, said the next significant band of rain for the area was forecast to pass north of Newbury but showers could "pop up" on Friday and Saturday potentially delivering 2-3mm of rain each day if doing so.

"We have the risk of showers on Friday and Saturday, but it is not organised rain in the way it was on Monday and Tuesday morning," Hill said. "It could stay dry for the rest of the week, although the percentage call is that is unlikely. 

"If you asked me what I think the ground will be, I'd say it will be a mix of good and good to soft with it being more good if the showers don't pop up. The track looks very well and hopefully we get lucky with the showers."

While any further rain would be against Inspiral, it should hold no fears for her main market rival Big Rock or third favourite Charyn, who have both won Group races on soft ground. Inspiral has drifted to 2-1, the same price as Big Rock, while Charyn is 4-1 (from 5) with layers.

With an uncertain forecast for the remainder of the week, Richardson said it was too early to make a firm call either way but was clear that if the ground deteriorated further Inspiral would wait for Royal Ascot. 

"If it went soft she wouldn't run," he added. "It's a long season, with lots to look forward to and there's no point popping her into something that isn't going to suit her. I don't know for sure about good to soft and John and Thady will have to make the call with Mrs Thompson.  

"Up to this point in time she's had an uninterrupted programme which she hasn't necessarily always had in previous years. We were just hoping that the weather was going to be set fair running into the weekend, but frustratingly it may not be the case."

Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes (3.35 Newbury, Saturday)

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