Palace Pier faces 13 rivals on Champions Day as he bids to remain perfect

Palace Pier faces 13 rivals on Champions Day as he bids to remain perfect

John Gosden’s unbeaten colt headlines 14 for the QEII Stakes (sponsored by QIPCO)

Palace Pier gets the opportunity to cement his standing as the top-rated miler in the world in the £650,000 Queen Elizabeth II Stakes (sponsored by QIPCO).

Five runs have yielded five wins for the three-year-old Kingman colt, who swept through from off the pace to land the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot in June before doing likewise in the Prix Jacques Le Marois at Deauville in mid-August.

John Gosden is chasing a fifth win in the race – the most valuable mile contest run in the UK this year – and has deliberately not run him since. Palace Pier, who as usual will be ridden by Frankie Dettori, completed his preparation with a gallop on the Rowley Mile Course at Newmarket before racing on Saturday and is among 14 final entries.

Gosden is also represented by Nazeef, a game winner of the Kingdom Of Bahrain Sun Chariot Stakes at Newmarket this month after earlier wins this campaign in the Tattersalls Falmouth Stakes, also at Newmarket, and Duke Of Cambridge Stakes, at Royal Ascot.

Charm Spirit (2014) and Solow (2015) have been French-trained winners in recent years and The Revenant, runner-up to King Of Change last year (when Veracious was fourth), will attempt to emulate them. The five-year-old, who has won nine of his dozen races, has followed the same path as last year, winning the Group 2 Qatar Prix Daniel Wildenstein at Longchamp this month.

Aidan O’Brien won with Minding in 2016 and his principal challenger this time appears to be Circus Maximus, a two-time Group 1 winner at Royal Ascot. He was the narrow winner of last year’s St James’s Palace Stakes and showed similar tenacity to land the Queen Anne Stakes this summer. His stablemates, Lancaster House and Royal Dornoch, also run.

Lord Glitters is another whose record at Ascot stands close inspection, winning the Balmoral Handicap on QIPCO British Champions Day in 2017 before scooping the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot in 2019. The seven-year-old showed he retains plenty of enthusiasm when chasing home Addeybb in a Listed contest at Ayr last time.

David O’Meara, his trainer, is also rolling the dice with Escobar, who beat Lord North when winning the Balmoral Handicap on QIPCO British Champions day last year.

Century Dream, third to Roaring Lion two years ago, is back for another crack, while Molatham (Jersey Stakes), Dark Vision (Royal Hunt Cup) and Sir Busker (Silver Royal Hunt Cup) were successful at Royal Ascot this summer. In total, six horses who won at the Royal Meeting this year will lock horns – the other trio being Palace Pier, Circus Maximus and Nazeef.

The field is completed by the Roger Varian-trained Roseman.

WHAT THEY SAY:

Aidan O’Brien, the trainer of Circus Maximus, Royal Dornoch and Lancaster House

“Circus Maximus is very tough and consistent and seems to dance every dance. He’s a very competitive horse and loves it when horses challenge him – he’s tough and hardened and loves to get into a battle. The Jacques le Marois was a very strongly run race and we were forward; Palace Pier was taking his time and the ground was deep as well. Deauville is also a flat track, whereas Ascot is stiffer. We’ve been happy with our horse since and he’s run some big races at Ascot. Royal Dornoch ran well when fourth at Irish Champions Weekend and we think he has progressed for that. He was ridden a little bit patiently and maybe didn’t get the clearest of runs through.”

Francis Graffard, the trainer of The Revenant

“He has had no physical issues since last year. I had him ready to run at the beginning of the season, then lockdown came and since we had no idea how long it would last and feared that it would force him to run on summer ground that he does not like, we decided to turn him out and wait until the autumn. He came back in July to allow us to get him ready for this race and the Wildenstein. The Revenant has come out of his Prix Daniel Wildenstein victory very well. He needed the race badly, so he will come on a lot. The softer the ground the better for him. Last year it was very soft which helped us. It would be great if he runs a similar race and, with humility, I see Palace Pier as the one to beat, and if we were placed again it would be a very good performance. We are just hoping to be competitive and for a good run.”

David O’Meara, the trainer of Lord Glitters

“We were happy with his run at Ayr, when he probably took too long getting out but flew home. It’s a very hot QEII with the likes of Palace Pier and Kameko in there but Ascot suits him and hopefully he can end up in the prize-money.”

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