Lockinge Stakes Day, which is hosted annually by Newbury Racecourse on a Saturday in May, is the most valuable fixture of the year at the Berkshire course, worth a total of £750,000 in prize money.
The highlight of the seven-race card is the Lockinge Stakes, run over a straight mile and open to horses aged four years and upwards. Inaugurated in 1958 and named after a parish in the nearby Vale of White Horse district of Oxfordshire, the Lockinge Stakes was initially awarded Group 2 status by the European Pattern in 1971. The race was demoted to Group 3 status in 1983, but promoted back to Group 2 status in 1995 and promoted again, to its current Group 1 status, in 1995, at which point it was restricted to horses aged four years and upwards.
The Lockinge Stakes is currently sponsored by Qatari-owned racing operation Al Shaqab, worth £350,000 in prize money and forms the second leg of the British Champions Series Mile Category, after the 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket, which is restricted to three-year-olds. The Lockinge Stakes has been won by some of the finest thoroughbreds in Europe, including Habitat in 1969, Brigadier Gerard in 1972, Kris in 1980 and, of course, Frankel – the highest rated horse in history, according to World Thoroughbred Rankings – in 2012. Sir Michael Stoute, who saddled Soviet Line to back-to-back victories in the Lockinge Stakes in 1995 and 1996, is the leading trainer in the history of the race, with a total of seven wins between 1986 and 2006.
The supporting card for the Locking Stakes also includes the Aston Park Stakes, sponsored since 2016 by Al Rayyan and run, for sponsorship purposes, as the Al Rayyan Stakes. In that same year, the race was promoted to Group 3 status and its distance reduced to 1 mile 4 furlongs. In 2018, the race was won by Crystal Ocean, who went on to win the Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot and was only beaten a neck by stable companion Poet’s Word in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes, back at Ascot the following month.