Get set for round five between Galileo Gold and Ribchester in Lockinge

By Andy Stephens@StevoGG
Fri 19 May 2017

Galileo Gold and Ribchester will clash for the fifth time in a year in the Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes at Newbury on Saturday. We study previous battles between the milers and predict which of the pair will come out on top this time

By Andy Stephens

If familiarity breeds contempt, then Galileo Gold and Ribchester could be forgiven for blanking each other in the paddock at Newbury on Saturday.

It will be the fifth time the high-class milers have met in a year and the score between them currently stands at 2-2.

Sequels often disappoint but the pair head the betting and round five is eagerly anticipated. Here’s how their previous four encounters have panned out.

ROUND ONE: April 30, 2016

Newmarket: Qipco 2,000 Guineas

Going: good

All the build-up to the first Classic of the season was on Air Force Blue, the odds-on favourite, but he was a spent force a long way out and  it was Galileo Gold (14-1) who powered to a convincing length and a half success over Massaat with Ribchester (33-1) another two lengths back in third.

Frankie Dettori kept things simple on Galileo Gold - never being far away and asserting coming out of the Dip. He was able to salute the crowd before the line.

Ribchester, ridden by William Buick, kept on well but did not seem to have the same gears of the winner. That impression was to change in future clashes.

ROUND TWO:  July 27, 2016

Goodwood: Qatar Sussex Stakes

Going: good to firm

Before their second battle, Galileo Gold and Ribchester had taken a different paths. The former finished second in the Irish 2,000 Guineas and then won the St James’s Palace Stakes, while Ribchester skipped a rematch at Royal Ascot and instead won the Jersey Stakes in fine style.

The Sussex provided one of the best finishes of the season ended with The Gurkha, the 11-8 favourite, prevailing by a neck from Galileo Gold (9-4), with Ribchester (8-1) another short head behind in third.

Both camps were afterwards left rueing what might have been.

Team Galileo Gold lamented having to do the donkey work and being something of a sitting duck. Post-race talk included the possibility of finding a pacemaker for him.

Meanwhile, Richard Fahey was lamenting Ribchester having to switch off the rail to get a clear run. His charge finished with a rattle under James Doyle and, without having to make that manoeuvre, would surely have won.

ROUND THREE: August 14, 2016

Deauville: Prix du Haras de Fresnay-Le-Buffard - Jacques Le Marois

Going: good

Just 18 days after their narrow reverses on the Sussex Downs, the pair flew to France to contest the  Jacques Le Marois and, with The Gurkha absent, dominated the betting.

Galileo Gold started 11-8 favourite, with Ribchester (11-4) but this time there was more than an inch or two between them.

The keen Galileo Gold did too much, too soon and after racing prominently wilted to finish eighth.

As he went backwards, Ribchester went forward under Buick and the combination led inside the final furlong and won by half a length from Vadamos. Galileo Gold was beaten a total of more than three lengths.

ROUND FOUR: October 15, 2016

Ascot: Queen Elizabeth II Stakes

Going: good

The pair were given two months to recharge their batteries before a fourth and final showdown of the season on Champions Day.

However, despite his break, Galileo Gold (11-2) ran like a horse who had definitely had enough for the season.

He again took a tug but the response was limited when Dettori asked for maximum effort and the game was already up when he was hampered by Awtaad in the closing stages. He was beaten an aggregate of about seven lengths.

Ribchester (7-2) also proved a little headstrong but gave his all in his pursuit of Minding and, as she idled late on, got to within half a length of her.

ROUND FIVE: May 20, 2017

Newbury: Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes

Going: likely to be on the soft side

A fifth clash on a fifth different course but, like in the previous instances, again over a mile. So which of the pair comes out on top this time?

The official ratings are not much help. Ribchester has a mark of 122, while Galileo Gold is on 121.

Between them, they have accumulated more than £2 milllion in prize money.

Ribchester has already been in action and shown his battles of last year had left no scars when running well in defeat over 1m1f on a rain-softened surface in Dubai.

He will be suited by the return to a mile and, in Toscanini, has a classy pacemaker as his connections seek to get him to settle better. There are no boxes left unticked.

Galileo Gold’s exploits caught up with him last year and Hugo Palmer has since said that he regrets running him at Deauville - wishing he had had instead given him a proper break to help him mentally unwind.

Having had seven months off and a good preparation, the Guineas winner might easily bounce back - not least because his trainer believes he is a calmer, more mature individual.

The pacemaker in the line-up will help him just as much as it will Ribchester.

Choosing between the pair is not easy. If you had to pick one to run for your life, which way would you turn?

Ribchester is a best-priced 2-1, while Galileo Gold is 100-30. At the prices, the latter gets the nod to come out on top.


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