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Baaeed and Palace Pier headline stellar Queen Elizabeth II Stakes field

11 Oct 2021

Rising one-mile star Baaeed will face by far the toughest test of his career to date when he bids to stretch his unbeaten run to six in the £1.1m Queen Elizabeth II Stakes (sponsored by QIPCO), which on the tenth anniversary of Frankel’s memorable QIPCO British Champions Day debut in the same race has attracted a line-up worthy of the occasion.

The William Haggas-trained three-year-old made his racecourse debut only four months ago but he is already a Group 1 winner in the Prix Du Moulin at ParisLongchamp and is disputing favouritism with last year’s champion miler Palace Pier in a line-up which also includes last year’s winner The Revenant, this year’s QIPCO 2000 Guineas runner-up Master Of The Seas, and top-class fillies Alcohol Free, Lady Bowthorpe and Mother Earth.

Haggas has been delighted with Baaeed and said: “With the likes of Palace Pier and Alcohol Free in the field it could be the race of the day, but Baaeed’s preparation has gone well and he’s in good shape. He’s a nice horse and he’s come a long way in a short space of time.”

John Gosden sounds just as pleased with Palace Pier, who is already a five-time Group 1 winner, including twice at Ascot, but met his only defeat in a ten-race career when third here 12 months ago. 

He said: “It was frustrating when Palace Pier had to miss the Sussex Stakes with that blood disorder but he has since won the Prix Jacques Le Marois and it was always the intention after that to wait for this race.

“He’s been training well and he’ll appreciate what will hopefully be nicer ground than last year. A little over a week ago it was bottomless, and while we don’t expect it to dry out to good to firm, it won’t be like that.”

The Revenant is peaking at the right time once again judging from his fast-finishing short neck second behind Real World in the Prix Daniel Wildenstein at ParisLongchamp last weekend, when having his first race since May. However, drying ground could be a concern.

In an interview for QIPCO British Champions Series last week, trainer Francis-Henri Graffard said: “Two years ago on his first attempt he ran a fantastic race to finish second to a good horse (King Of Change), and when we went back last year we were very confident because he had come on a lot for his run at Longchamp. He had his ground and he was spot on, and he delivered, which was very good. If he has his ground again he will be ready to defend his title.”

The Coronation Stakes and Qatar Sussex Stakes winner Alcohol Free missed last weekend’s Kingdom Of Bahrain Sun Chariot Stakes to wait for this, and if successful again here the prize money would provide a massive boost to Andrew Balding’s hopes of winning a first trainers’ title after he lost the lead to Charlie Appleby at Newmarket last weekend during the Dubai Future Champions Festival.

Balding said: “The QEII has always been the aim for Alcohol Free. We sidestepped the Sun Chariot Stakes at Newmarket as we felt that it might be a bit tight going to Ascot oly two weeks later, and she seems in great form.”

Benbatl will also merit respect. Saeed Bin Suroor’s globe-trotting seven-year-old has been a Group 1 winner at racecourses as far afield as Caulfield in Australia, Meydan in the UAE, and a little closer to home in Munich, Germany. His recent Newmarket Group 2 defeat of Pogo suggests his enthusiasm is undimmed.

The ten confirmations for the race are completed by Njord, who has been Group-placed on several occasions since winning the Balmoral Handicap (Sponsored By QIPCO) for Jessica Harrington on last year’s card and 2019 Queen Anne Stakes winner Lord Glitters.

Full entries: 

Benbatl (GB), Lord Glitters (FR), Njord (IRE), Palace Pier (GB), The Revenant (GB), Baaeed (GB), Lady Bowthorpe (GB), Master of The Seas (IRE), Alcohol Free (IRE), Mother Earth (IRE).