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Unbeaten Palace Pier stars in entries for QEII Stakes (Sponsored by QIPCO)

1 Sep 2020

The John Gosden-trained three-year-old will hope to maintain his perfect record over the straight mile at Ascot

Palace Pier heads entries for QEII Stakes (sponsored by QIPCO)

Palace Pier will bid to establish himself as Europe’s Champion Miler in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes (sponsored by QIPCO), the richest mile race in Great Britain this year and one which the peerless Frankel won by four lengths when QIPCO British Champions Day was launched in 2011.

In what is widely being recognised as a vintage year for milers, John Gosden’s Kingman colt Palace Pier heads a field of 39 horses which include last year’s winner King Of Change, the QIPCO 2000 Guineas winner Kameko, the Irish 2000 Guineas winner Siskin, last year’s outstanding two-year-old Pinatubo, and the dual Royal Ascot winner Circus Maximus.

Palace Pier staked his claim to champion miler honours when beating Alpine Star, Circus Maximus, Persian King and Romanised in the Prix Jacques Le Marois at Deauville on 16th August, having beaten Pinatubo and QIPCO 2000 Guineas runner-up Wichita in the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot.

Gosden will be bidding for a fifth win in the race following Observatory (2000), Raven’s Pass (2008), Persuasive (2017) and Roaring Lion (2018) and is relishing the prospect. He said: “Palace Pier will go straight to Ascot for the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes. He took his race at Deauville well, and he’s been in good order since. I don’t think the ground there was ideal for him, but he coped with it.”

Kameko will revert to his best trip after a frustrating summer and bid to repeat the success of owner Qatar Racing’s 2018 champion Roaring Lion.

Trainer Andrew Balding confirmed: “Kameko will go straight to Ascot for the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, and then I think the intention is to keep him in training next year. He’s had an amazing year, but it’s been a very frustrating one too and I don’t think he’s achieved yet what he’s capable of achieving. We have played the hand that was dealt to us though, and I don’t think any of us have any regrets.

“It started just as we had hoped and planned in the QIPCO 2000 Guineas, and we are looking forward to going back to a mile again on QIPCO British Champions Day as the form book tells you that he’s very, very good at that distance.

“He didn’t get home behind Ghaiyyath in the Juddmonte International, but he looked very good again up to a point, and that was in probably the best race run in the world all year and on ground that was probably a little slower than ideal. He’s just the most fantastic horse to train.”

King Of Change has not raced since his decisive defeat of French challenger The Revenant last October, but trainer Richard Hannon hopes to have him ready in time. He said: “We had King Of Change ready for the Lockinge and he was bang on song but the race didn’t take place of course, and then we decided to miss Royal Ascot and wait for later in the year.

“We want to run him in the top mile races of course and we’d love to go back to Ascot to try and win the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes again. There’s every chance he’ll make it, but he’s taking his time this year and we aren’t going to run him of course until he’s absolutely right again.”

Ger Lyons is keen to run Siskin, who was third behind Mohaather and Circus Maximus in the Sussex Stakes, and has one eye on him staying in training next year. He said: “Siskin has never been beaten by a horse of his own age and is the best three-year-old miler so far as I’m concerned.

“He’s been in good order since he was third to the best older miler Mohaather in the Sussex Stakes at Goodwood, and he has options in the Prix de la Foret in France, the Boomerang on Irish Champions Day and of course the QEII.”

Pinatubo returned to the winner’s enclosure in Deauville’s Prix Maurice De Gheest, following defeats in the QIPCO 2000 Guineas and the St James’s Palace Stakes. Officially rated the best two-year-old since Celtic Swing 25 years earlier, his 128 surpassing even that awarded to Frankel at the same stage, he remains a top-class colt despite losing his air of invincibility.

He is on course for Longchamp’s Prix Du Moulin first, and if he wins, he will be a serious contender for the QEII.

Appleby said: “It will be Longchamp first, but we’ve only been touched off by Palace Pier in the St James’s Palace so the QEII will be the obvious option if we decide that he’s seeing the mile out.”

Circus Maximus, who has won twice at the track over the same distance of a mile (St James’s Palace Stakes in 2019 and Queen Anne Stakes this year) heads the Aidan O’Brien entries.

He said: “Circus Maximus is a strong possible for the QEII and then we have a couple of horses who are heading first for the Boomerang at Leopardstown, like Arizona for example, but could go on to Ascot depending on what happens.

Century Dream, third to Roaring Lion two years ago, is a worthy contender for Simon and Ed Crisford after Saturday’s impressive win in Goodwood’s Ladbrokes Celebration Mile, and last year’s third Safe Voyage is also a likely runner again, having looked better than ever when giving One Master a  three-and-a-half-length beating in the Group 2 City Of York Stakes.

Trainer John Quinn confirmed: “Safe Voyage is due to go to Leopardstown next on Irish Champions Weekend, but another crack at the QEII is high on his list. He beat some of the best milers around when he was third last year.”

Full entries for Queen Elizabeth II Stakes (sponsored by QIPCO):

Accidental Agent, Al Rufaa, Arizona, Armory, Benbatl, Century Dream, Circus Maximus, Dark Vision, Epic Hero, Escobar, Kameko, Khaloosy, Lancaster House, Lord Campari, Lord Glitters, Mogul, Molatham, My Oberon, Nazeef, One Master, Palace Pier, Peaceful, Pinatubo, Romanised, Roseman, Royal Dornoch, Safe Voyage, San Donato, Sir Busker, Siskin, Stormy Antarctic, Tammani, Terebellum, The Revenant, Tilsit, Top Rank, Vatican City, Veracious, Wichita.