05/16/2009 12:00AM

Virtual edges rival in Lockinge


Virtual got the better of Alexandros after a prolonged duel in the Group 1 Lockinge Stakes at Newbury on Saturday, but Alexandros was a most unlucky loser, as his rider, Frankie Dettori, had the whip knocked out of his hand a furlong from home.

Dettori found himself in tight quarters aboard Alexandros between Virtual on his right and Twice Over on his left as the trio battled for the lead approaching the eighth pole. Whipping right-handed, Tim Queally on Twice Over accidentally smacked Dettori s left arm, causing Dettori to lose his stick. Dettori still managed to get Alexandros s head in front at the sixteenth pole, but a hard-driving Jimmy Fortune got Virtual s nose down on the line for the victory. Twice Over was a half-length behind in third with the 8-5 favorite, Paco Boy, fourth, 1 3/4 lengths behind the 6-1 winner. The time for the straight mile on soft ground was 1:40.32.

Trained by John Gosden, Virtual had had a three-race winning streak ended when he ran third to Paco Boy last time in the Group 1 Sandown Mile.

The first four finishers are all scheduled for different races next time. Virtual is slated for the 1 1/4-mile Eclipse Stakes at Sandown on July 4. Alexandros will drop down in class for the 1 1/16-mile, Group 3 Diomed Stakes at Epsom on June 5. Twice Over heads to Royal Ascot for the 11/4-mile Prince of Wales s Stakes on June 17, while Paco Boy, whose trainer, Richard Hannon, offered the soft ground as an excuse, will remain at a mile for the Queen Anne Stakes on opening day of the Royal Meeting, June 16.