Royal Ascot, day 1: All eyes on Palace Pier and Frankie Dettori

This was Palace Pier winning at Royal Ascot last year under Frankie Dettori.This was Palace Pier winning at Royal Ascot last year under Frankie Dettori.
This was Palace Pier winning at Royal Ascot last year under Frankie Dettori.
JOHN Gosden fully expects Palace Pier to reaffirm his status as British racing’s pre-eminent miler in the Queen Anne Stakes – Royal Ascot’s traditional curtain-raiser.

Frankie Dettori’s mount is, arguably, the hottest favourite for this Group One since Frankel turned it into a one-horse race in 2012.

More recently, Ribchester prevailed for Malton’s Richard Fahey in 2017 while the grey Lord Glitters, victorious in 2019 for Upper Helmsley-based David O’Meara, will attempt to roll back the years.

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But Palace Pier won the St James’s Stakes for three-year-old colts at last year’s Royal meeting and was a nonchalant winner of last month’s Group One Lockinge Stakes at Newbury.

Champion trainer John Gosden.Champion trainer John Gosden.
Champion trainer John Gosden.

Victory for Palace Pier would also be a first for Gosden since his son Thady was added to the training licence. “He’s a lovely horse and has done everything right in his life,” said Gosden senior.

“He only missed the autumn of his two-year-old career – then we were planning the Greenham last year, but naturally it didn’t take place with lockdown.

“He prepped in a Newcastle race – I wasn’t going to run him blind in a Guineas, because he hadn’t had the racing, but he then came out and won the St James’s Palace.

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“It’s been a strange Spring. It was incredibly cold, then incredibly wet. So it’s been eccentric, (and) finally we’re getting summer ground for Ascot – which is fantastic.”

Gosden is the first to concede that his stable is having to rely upon his older horses at this year’s Royal Ascot because his three-year-olds are simply not good enough.

As well as Palace Pier, he saddles Lord North in tomorrow’s Prince of Wales’s Stakes – the colt was imperious when winning the Dubai Turf in April – before Stradivarius seeks a fourth successive Ascot Gold Cup on Thursday.

It would, in fact, be a fifth consecutive win at the Royal meeting because Stradivarius won the 2017 Queen’s Vase as a three-year-od before going on to monopolise the stayers’ division.

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“This boy is an absolute riot to be around – he’s very entertaining and has a great personality,” added Gosden. “I tend to just let him enjoy himself – and as long as he is, that’s all the matters.

“You have to get him out early in the morning or he complains – he likes to be first out. When he sees the other strings he shouts and roars – he particularly seems to like the blue of Godolphin, which causes him to shout even more. He’s incredibly fun to be around and is like part of the family now.”

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