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Big Rock team will regroup after Lockinge conditions go against QEII winner

Big Rock team will regroup after Lockinge conditions go against QEII winner
Big Rock team will regroup after Lockinge conditions go against QEII winner

Maurizio Guarnieri was left to bemoan conditions at Newbury after Big Rock failed to deliver a blow on his debut for the trainer in the Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes.

The son of Rock Of Gibraltar was the highest-rated miler in the world last season when trained by Christopher Head, but owners Yeguada Centurion SL made the decision to switch the colt for this season to Guarnieri.

Having chased home Ace Impact in the Prix du Jockey Club, he dropped back to a mile to finish second in some high-class events last season before ending 2023 with an emphatic display in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot.

That six-length success came on rain-softened ground on British Champions Day, and Chantilly-based Italian Guarnieri was dreaming of similar when he looked at the weather forecasts ahead of Big Rock’s latest UK raid.

But the anticipated rainfall never materialised for the strapping four-year-old, as the 11-4 second-favourite could only finish sixth, beaten 15 lengths behind shock winner Audience.

Guarnieri said: “We know that the ground is a real problem and if he had the ground OK for him, after 210 days off then he would have been OK.

“But this is a Group One and against horses with one or two races and it is not so easy and with today’s conditions it felt like the world was against us.

“The horse didn’t show what he can do in heavy and soft ground, he didn’t change his speed and normally the others are three and four lengths behind, but today he just stayed at the same pace.”

Big Rock holds an entry in the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot where he would have the chance to recreate his QEII heroics.

However, Guarnieri has warned he would like to see soft in the going description before committing to another visit to Berkshire.

“I think before we decide we need to know the horse is all right and then discuss it with the owner,” continued Guarnieri.

“In my opinion, he could go to Ascot if we get some soft ground which can sometimes happen at Ascot.

“Today we are just unlucky with the weather and he has had 200 days off. The jockey said the horse was just the same all the time and he had no chance in the race.”

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