Prime Rib can sizzle at Newbury
Godolphin can rule the roost at Newbury today with Ribchester taken to headline a high-profile double for them in the Group One Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes.
The Richard Fahey-trained four-year-old is unlikely to be too much of a generous price as he leads the ratings, but it is hard to pick holes in the colt's form, particularly as he has a much-needed pacemaker in the field this time.
If you could have one criticism of Ribchester it would be that he is not the most relaxed of racers, but the presence of stablemate Toscanini will ensure that he has the necessary lead through the early stages.
Despite his occasional keenness, Ribchester has still managed to strike at the top table, landing the Prix Jacques le Marois after notable near-misses in both the 2000 Guineas and Sussex Stakes, when the reopposing Galileo Gold finished in front.
Connections might have hoped to hit the target again in the QEII on his final start of the year, but superstar filly Minding proved too good, making fine use of her fillies' allowance and the fact that Ribchester was far too eager.
The same problem occurred when he finished third in Dubai on his return in March, although the step up to nine furlongs there would hardly have helped matters.
That run should have given him a nice springboard for this race and he will appreciate both the switch back to a mile and cut in the ground.
Conditions are crucial for Hawkbill in the Al Rayyan Stakes as he is a runner who really thrives when he can get his toe in.
The Godolphin runner proved that point admirably when notching up a hat-trick in the first part of last season, including victory at Royal Ascot and a Group One prize in the Eclipse.
However, Hawkbill lost his way a bit after that with fast ground at York leaving him all at sea in the Juddmonte International while he just did not sparkle on yielding ground in the Irish Champion Stakes.
Narrowly beaten in a German Group One on his final start of last year, Hawkbill returned with a fair fifth in the Prix Ganay earlier this month, looking as though he really needed the outing.
The 12 furlongs he faces here is still something of a question mark, but Charlie Appleby made no secret of the fact he thought this horse would improve for more of a test and now is the time for Hawkbill to step forward.
The Al Zubarah London Gold Cup Handicap is always a tricky affair to figure out but Century Dream could be the solution for Simon Crisford.
A maiden winner at the third attempt on easy ground at Newmarket last autumn, he was a bit keen on his return at Sandown but was hardly disgraced in finishing third and should come on for that run.
Valcartier is obviously showing a bit at home to merit an Eclipse entry, so he should be noted in the Betway Fairway Stakes at Newmarket.
Beaten out of sight by Mirage Dancer on his only juvenile run, Valcartier showed the benefit of another winter on his back as he made a winning reappearance at Nottingham last month.
He was a different class that day as he won by nearly four lengths and this looks a logical step from John Gosden with bigger targets surely in mind for the future.
Larchmont Lad drops in class and trip for the Betway King Charles II Stakes and can make the most of it. He found it hard work in the Craven and 2000 Guineas and this is significantly easier, with seven furlongs certain to see him in a better light.
Treble: Century Dream