Reports18 May 2024

'He's super talented' - Audience upstages stablemate Inspiral to spring 22-1 Lockinge upset

Audience: won the Lockinge Stakes
Audience and Robert Havlin win the Lockinge Stakes from CharynCredit: Edward Whitaker (

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 Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes. 

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 favourite 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 favoured by his rivals, he slipped free from the pack in the early exchanges as he charged alone up the centre of the track. 

Travelling 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. 

"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. 

"You've just got to let him get on with it and we don't try to organise 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."

Audience (Rab Havlin)and owner Patricia Thompson  after the Lockinge
Audience (Robert Havlin) and owner Patricia Thompson after the LockingeCredit: Edward Whitaker

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 what 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 colours of Cheveley Park Stud and a rematch could well be on the cards in the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot, where Inspiral is expected to strip much fitter. 

"She's run a lovely race and come from stall one across to stall nine," 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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