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Audience Upsets Barnmate Inspiral, Others in Lockinge

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 Lockinge Stakes (G1). 

All eyes were on six-time group 1 winner Inspiral, ridden by John and Thady Gosden’s new stable jockey Kieran Shoemark for the first time, but unflappable understudy Robert Havlin called the shots from the word go on Audience. He came home a length and three-quarters in front of Charyn , with Inspiral a further 11 lengths away in fourth and her main market rival Big Rock  only sixth.   

Havlin, a mainstay of the Gosden yard and second rider to Frankie Dettori before Shoemark took over at the start of the season, may have appeared to have been on pacemaking duty but rode a race to suit his horse. Shunning the stands’ rail favored by his rivals, he slipped free from the pack in the early exchanges as he charged alone up the center of the track. 

Traveling 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 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. 

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“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. 

John Gosden and Rab Havlin after Audience had won the Lockinge<br>
Newbury 18.5.24 Pic: Edward Whitaker
Photo: Edward Whitaker/Racing Post

(L-R): Trainer John Gosden and jockey Robert Havlin after Audience’s win in the Lockinge Stakes at Newbury Racecourse

“You’ve just got to let him get on with it and we don’t try to organize 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.”

There were shades of Fly to the Stars defeating odds-on stablemate Intikhab in 1999 and Cape Cross springing a 20-1 Lockinge shock the previous year about Audience’s front-running victory and John Gosden warned of the pitfall of letting a high-quality pacemaker loose on the front.

“I remember that day with Cape Cross and it happens,” said Gosden. “When you know this horse is rated and what he’s done in the past, you don’t leave him alone. I knew Rab would get a hell of a run out of him but I didn’t think he’d be left in splendid isolation. Rab is a wonderful rider and puts all the work in at home. 

“Audience is a wild boy but he’s always had ability. 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.”

Like Inspiral, the winner also carries the colors of Cheveley Park Stud and a rematch could well be on the cards in the Queen Anne Stakes (G1) at Royal Ascot, where Inspiral is expected to strip much fitter. The Lockinge was Inspiral’s first run since winning the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1) at Santa Anita Park.

“She’s run a lovely race and come from stall 1 across to stall 9,” said Gosden. “She’s come to make her run and just got tired. She’s having a good blow and she needed it. In her work at home she’s a lot older and wiser and I’m not going to tell her what to do. She’s been quietly doing what she’s happy doing and she needed this run to bring her on for Ascot. 

“The Queen Anne would probably be the aim for both horses but we’ll also look at the mile and a quarter (in the Prince of Wales’s for Inspiral). We’ll leave our options open and see how she is over the next week.”   

The only horse able to break from the pack in pursuit of Audience was Charyn and rider Silvestre de Sousa said: “The ground drying out may have benefited the winner but there will be a big day in Charyn. A stiff mile will suit him and the way he runs I can see him getting a bit further.”


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