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Modern Games too good for Lockinge rivals

Modern Games produced his trademark finishing kick to secure his first Group One victory on British soil in the Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes at Newbury.

The Charlie Appleby-trained four-year-old is no stranger to success at the top table, having won three times at the highest level in North America and once in France.

Modern Games is a dual Breeders’ Cup winner having won the Juvenile Turf in 2021 and the Mile last year – and while he had to make do with the runner-up spot on his return to Keeneland for his seasonal reappearance last month, he showed his class back in the UK.

The 3-1 favourite was given plenty of time to find his feet by William Buick and was still a long way back as the admirable Chindit moved to the front and threatened to cause an upset a furlong out.

But once given his head, Modern Games engaged overdrive to readily reel in those in front of him and he was ultimately good value for the winning margin of a length and a half.

Chindit stuck to his guns to fill the runner-up spot, despite making a grab at Modern Games as he passed by, with Berkshire Shadow third, My Prospero fourth and Mutasaabeq fading into fifth after cutting out much of the running.

Appleby would now love to secure a Breeders’ Cup hat-trick with Modern Games.

He said: “I’m delighted for all of the team, but also for the horse, because he deserves to win a Group One in England and he will go down to date as one of the best sons of Dubawi there has been. He will be going to the breeding sheds at the end of the year when we have pulled the pin on his career.

“We will work back from the Breeders’ Cup. We will look at the Sussex, as logically we should do, and the Queen Anne along the route.

“But as we all know, I said it would be lovely to take him back for a third Breeders’ Cup and see if we can do the treble – not that it is a necessity. He has booked his ticket to a stud career, but to put an English Group One in the book is fantastic for him.”

Appleby added: “He has got older and he warms into his races. We saw that unfortunately in the later stages in America.

“It was an important day for him, as he has done it in America, in Canada and was a Classic winner in France, so to do it on home soil is a big feather in his cap.

“This horse started off his career with the likes of Native Trail and Coroebus, he was going out in the mornings with some star milers then.

“He showed he is a top miler. Not just on what he achieved in winning the Guineas and winning in America, but finishing second to Baaeed in the Sussex was a huge race. He was one of the few horses who put Baaeed under the pump. I felt he gained a lot of support and recognition from that day onwards here in England.”

Appleby felt Modern Games’ trip to Keeneland last month had the desired effect.

He said: “People raised their eyebrows a bit when we went to America. But I was delighted when I saw him at the paddock today, as while you always go over there confident, I was thinking the run might not do him any harm. It is a long way to go and have a run.

“I wanted to run him on quick ground. I know he ran with merit on Champions Day, but I started the season on quick ground and when I saw him in the paddock today, I saw he was fit and ready to do himself justice.

“We will head to Ascot, all being well. The aim is to take him back and win three Breeders’ Cup races.”

Buick revealed that Chindit had caught his hand when he tried to bite Modern Games.

He said: “Chindit took a chunk out of my hand – well, it’s not really a chunk, but he drew blood – at the furlong pole. It all adds to a bit of the story, I suppose!

“It set up nicely. There was a nice pace to run at and it set up how we hoped it would and he was able to show his best.

“As a two-year-old, you had to really respect him. He is a top-class miler – end of.

“They went a good gallop, but the thing is, he is very versatile. If there isn’t, he can go and do it himself. He had done it everywhere – he’s done it himself in front, come from behind and he has done it round two turns. He ran well in soft ground at Ascot last year.

“He is a pure miler.”

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