Royal Ascot: Palace Pier shows he’s world’s best in Queen Anne – but Poetic Flare steals the show

By Nicholas Godfrey

So you know Frankie Dettori partnered Palace Pier to his eighth career success in nine starts in the Queen Anne Stakes, one of three G1 events on Day One as the crowds came back to Royal Ascot. Here are the details plus some other stuff you might be interested in – quotes, videos and tweets.

What’s going on?

Result

Royal Ascot (June 15): Queen Anne Stakes G1 £400,000, 1m, turf, 4yo+
1 Palace Pier 2-7f
In touch just behind slow early pace; shaken up to lead over furlong out, clear-cut but workmanlike rather than sensational on fast ground
2 Lope Y Fernandez 12-1
Suited by this faster ground; midfield, then ran on to claim second without ever threatening
3 Sir Busker 22-1
Clearly no match for winner but still another fine effort over C&D for course specialist
11 ran. Margins: 1½l, 1l, ¾l
Time: 1m39.18s (good to firm)

About the winner

Pedigree: 4 bc Kingman – Beach Frolic (Nayef)
Trainer: John & Thady Gosden
Jockey: Frankie Dettori
Owner: Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum
Breeder: Highclere Stud and Floors Farming

Background: fourth G1 success (and eighth win in nine career starts) for world #1 according to both Thoroughbred Racing Commentary Global Rankings and official IFHA lists; also won St James’s Palace Stakes at last year’s Royal Ascot; sole defeat came in testing conditions in last year’s QEII Stakes.

Horse Racing Royal Ascot Queen Anne Stakes Palace Pier Frankie Dettori
Palace Pier (Frankie Dettori) wins the G1 Queen Anne Stakes. Photo: Megan Ridgwell

On the record

Palace Pier was a 74th winner at Royal Ascot for Frankie Dettori – and the victory came in the same race as the jockey’s first, Markofdistinction for Luca Cumani in 1990. Palace Pier is Dettori’s seventh Queen Anne Stakes winner, moving him out on his own with most victories ahead of Sir Gordon Richards, who won the race six times.
Dettori’s Queen Anne winners are Markofdistinction (1990), Allied Forces (1997), Intikhab (1998), Dubai Destination (2003), Refuse To Bend (2004), Ramonti (2007) and Palace Pier (2021).
John Gosden, now training in partnership with his son Thady, has never before won the Queen Anne. Palace Pier was Gosden senior’s 55th winner at Royal Ascot; the 56th came later in the day as the Gosdens bookended the seven-race card with 33-1 shot Amtiyaz under Hollie Doyle in the concluding Copper Horse Handicap.

What’s next? Targets and betting

Sussex Stakes clash on cards?

Palace Pier was outshone later in the afternoon when 2,000 Guineas winner Poetic Flare trounced his St James’s Palace Stakes rivals. The pair could meet at Goodwood in the Sussex Stakes for a clash that would undoubtedly be billed as the ‘Duel on the Downs’.

In a match bet for the Goodwood contest, bookmakers Coral go 8-11 Palace Pier, evens Poetic Flare.

Palace Pier – Juddmonte/Marois options

“You could go up in trip with him, as you can see how relaxed he is,” said John Gosden. He is in the Juddmonte, but he’s also in the Sussex and the Prix Jacques le Marois, so I’ll talk to the owner and see. All the races are options, he’d have no trouble with the trip if they decide to go there.”

Poetic Flare’s trainer Jim Bolger was not present at Ascot but his daughter Una Manning – wife of jockey Kevin – also mentioned a choice of targets. “I just had a very quick word with my father,” she said. “He said the Sussex Stakes or the Prix Jacques Le Marois could be next.”

Snap reaction

Frankie Dettori: “Wow, wow! What can I say? He has shown again that he is the best miler around.”

John Gosden: “When you are odds-on like that there’d be something wrong if you weren’t nervous, because your only thing round the corner is a banana skin.”

Any other business

More to give on easier ground

Palace Pier had never run on ground faster than good and Frankie Dettori said the son of Kingman did not let himself down as he usually does and has “probably got a little bit more to give” on an easier surface.

‘He’s quite clumsy’ – Frankie Dettori

After passing the post, Palace Pier had a bit of a stumble. “He’s quite clumsy with his feet, forever losing his shoes and things like that, but when he goes fast he’s all right!” said Frankie Dettori.

St James’s Palace: Poetic Flare dominant in Irish 1-2-3

2,000 Guineas winner Poetic Flare (Jim Bolger/Kevin Manning) brought to mind memories of the original ‘Iron Horse’ Giant’s Causeway as he slammed his rivals with a hugely impressive victory by 4¼ lengths at the head of an Irish-trained 1-2-3 from Lucky Vega and Battleground.

Rapidly becoming a byword for equine toughness, the son of Dawn Approach was having his fifth start of the season, having run in all three Guineas in Britain, France and Ireland.

Fast ground the key

“The ground is what this horse needs,” said Kevin Manning. “You want that good, quick ground and that’s what we got today, and he showed how good he is.”

Poetic Flare had been beaten on softer ground at both ParisLongchamp and the Curragh.

King’s Stand: Oxted a Royal Ascot first

Trainer Roger Teal and jockey Cieren Fallon recorded their first Royal Ascot successes with Oxted, well backed in to 4-1 (from 8) against the favourite Battaash, who was only fourth. 

The July Cup winner finished really strongly to land his second G1 triumph by a length and three-quarters over Arecibo with US challenger Extravagant Kid a neck further behind in third.

Battaash needed run

Sent off 11-8 favourite, Battaash came to win his race after some blistering mid-race sectionals only to falter in the final furlong.  “He will come on plenty for that run,” said Jim Crowley. “He just needed it more today.”

The crowds are back

Up to 12,000 paying customers will be admitted to Royal Ascot daily as part of a government trial.

“You cannot imagine what’s it like to see the colours, the people screaming,” said Frankie Dettori. “It is a mirage – I’m so pleased to have the crowd back. It’s great.

“What can you say? Royal Ascot with people is amazing and this meeting is a big part of my life. I couldn’t ask for anything more.”

Shall we talk about it?

John Gosden (Palace Pier’s trainer): “He’s a gorgeous horse. He’s not a flashy worker but he does it on the track. He’s the same as his father [Kingman], he can go on any ground, he’s got plenty of scope and he’s a pleasure to be around.
“I think we were very aware that there was no pace in the race. Frankie said, ‘I’m drawn where I am so I’ll stay on the wing’ because we suspected a slow pace, which is what we got – a slow pace and a slow time – but then, don’t sit out the back when they kick, with two and a half, three to run. He has done it really smoothly; he has come through, won his race, and is exactly like his father, as soon as he gets there, he has done enough.
“If I worked him at home with an ordinary horse he’d just stay with him, that’s his game. When you are odds-on like that there’d be something wrong if you weren’t nervous, but it can be a banana skin. Frankie was aware there was no pace so he asserted early, then I noticed he was just hands and heels to keep him going.
“He’s probably done more in a piece of work at home than today. I’ve been second in this race three times, but that’s my first win – it obviously took Thady to get me over the line!”

Frankie Dettori (Palace Pier’s jockey): “It’s his first time on this type of ground and he’s not let himself down as good as he could but he’s won a Group 1 and he’s shown again he’s the best miler around. On easier ground he’s probably got a little bit more to give.
“It’s a pressure ride and you want everything to go right and it did. There wasn’t much pace in the race and I had him much further forward than usual. I stalked the pace, I had the leaders beat with a furlong and a half to go and then he went a couple of lengths clear and he took it easy with me.
“He was a fresh horse – he is one of the best horses in the world, so you want everything to go right and we can breathe a little bit now.
“At the moment there’s no need to change his trip. You can rely on Palace Pier. It is like getting one of the proper guys to take the first penalty and they will put it in the back of the net.”

Poetic Flare (Kevin Manning) wins the G1 St James’s Palace Stakes. Photo: British Champions Series

Jim Bolger (Poetic Flare’s trainer): “I’m very relaxed about it. I have tremendous confidence in this horse and I was expecting him to go and do that. Thanks to all my staff and everybody who has helped.
“We always knew he was hardy from the word go, even when he was being broken in you couldn’t keep him quiet. We’ve bred from the family since the very early 1980s, so a long time. When you have a horse winning the St James’s Palace like that you don’t really think about all the relatives and the breeding, you wouldn’t care if he came to you off the back of a truck as long as you had him.
“This horse is so hardy he’s unbelievable – you have to give it to him to keep his back down.” (Speaking to Sky Sports Racing)

Kevin Manning (Poetic Flare’s jockey): “He travelled very well – there was a nice, even pace in the race and always something to aim at. He just travelled so easy into the race, and when I asked him to pick up, he put the race to bed in a matter of strides.
“I couldn’t believe that I was travelling so well and was half sitting down rather than having to go forward. He’s an unbelievable horse. He’s a very tough individual who does himself very well. He has taken his racing very well.
“I don’t want to compare him to his sire, although if you are going on this race his dad only won by a short-head, not more than four lengths like Poetic Flare, but they are both fantastic horses.
“Riding these good horses is fantastic; it’s going well and I’m enjoying life. This place has been a lucky hunting ground for us over the years – we haven’t had loads of runners over the years, but the ones we’ve brought over have all had chances. We have just the one runner this week, and to win is marvellous.”

Oxted (Cieren Fallon) wins the G1 King’s Stand Stakes. Photo: British Champions Series

Roger Teal (Oxted’s trainer): “It’s just unbelievable. I mean I’m speechless because we’ve dreamt about these days for so long – I mean we had it in the July Cup last year, but a Royal Ascot Group 1. I mean, come on! A yard of our size, doing this is amazing. Dreams do come true.
“This is obviously his first run back over five furlongs, so I said to Cieren, just keep it simple. Just go straight from your draw, and see how it pans out later on. When we were quite outpaced, I thought oh no, maybe I’ve done the wrong thing.
“But then at halfway I saw Cieren just revving him up a bit and I saw him react, and then it was like poetry in motion. Stamina kicked in then. We knew there was going to be pace, for sure, with the likes of Battaash. But he’s got a great cruising speed; he was a little out of his comfort zone but he was able to use his stamina.”

Cieren Fallon (Oxted’s jockey): “It’s a dream come true – a Group 1 at Royal Ascot. I’ve been very blessed and very lucky to sit on a horse like this so early in my career.
“Oxted has a lot of speed and can run keen over six furlongs. Dropping back to a stiff five was always going to suit and I took my time on him today.
“I got a lovely trip, they went a real solid gallop early on. I didn’t panic, normally he’s a horse that can be quite keen, but I just gave him his head, let him get into a nice rhythm and just picked up when I needed to. He’s just shown that the July Cup isn’t a fluke. He is a proper Group 1 horse.”

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