Palace Pier maintained his unbeaten record with a dominant display under Frankie Dettori in the Prix Jacques le Marois at Deauville.
John Gosden’s youngster made a huge impression on his racecourse debut at Sandown 12 months ago – but rather than being thrown in at the deep end, the son of Kingman won a minor novice event at the same venue before being packed up for his winter break.
Palace Pier’s seasonal reappearance in a handicap on the all-weather at Newcastle was similarly low-key, but he left nobody in any doubt about his ability at Royal Ascot as he got the better of Pinatubo with a performance of class and courage in the St James’s Palace Stakes.
Dettori opted to head for France, despite travel restrictions meaning he will need to quarantine for 14 days on his return to the UK, and he has since announced he will stay there for the Prix Morny next weekend.
While the Italian will therefore miss this week’s Ebor Festival at York, and further meetings once back in Britain, Palace Pier was a warm order to double his top-level tally and claim his fifth win from as many starts.
Dettori sat last for much of the straight-mile, and there must have been a few moments of worry for Palace Pier’s supporters when he came under pressure with a couple of furlongs still to run on the heavy ground.
However, the three-year-old responded generously to grab the lead before kicking clear for an ultimately emphatic win.
Jessica Harrington’s Coronation Stakes heroine Alpine Star was a clear three-quarter-length second, with fellow Irish challengers Circus Maximus and Romanised finishing third and fifth respectively for Aidan O’Brien and Ken Condon.
Gosden told the PA news agency: “I think it was pretty clear watching the race that he wasn’t enjoying the ground. I saw Frankie moving his hands, and he was still fully 600 metres from home, but the horse showed a lot of guts and a lot of class.
“His main target will be the QEII on Champions Day at Ascot. Everything will revolve around that, although most importantly everything depends on how the horse feels once we get him back home.”
Palace Pier’s triumph completed an excellent weekend’s work in France for the Gosden-Dettori axis, with French Derby hero Mishriff similarly impressive in Saturday’s Prix Guillaume D’Ornano.
Reflecting on the Dettori’s decision, Gosden said: “We sat down and discussed it, and I said to Frankie I thought both horses would take a lot of beating if the ground wasn’t too bad, and obviously the prize money is so good.”
Like Palace Pier, Mishriff could be also be in action on Champions Day in October.
Gosden added: “I was thrilled with him and I knew he’d be fine on the ground, because it was deep the day he won his maiden at Nottingham.
“He’d been training very well since the Prix du Jockey Club and he’s stamped himself on the three-year-old division.
“We’ll give it a good 10 days and discuss with the owner where we’ll go with him. He looks almost tailor-made for the Champion Stakes, but we’ll consider all the options.”
Source : Sky Sports