Royal Ascot: Palace Pier brings joy for Sheikh Hamdan on opening day

Horseracing - Palace Pier
Frankie Dettori, riding Palace Pier, wins the Queen Anne Stakes on the first day of the Royal Ascot meet, in Ascot, west of London today. Royal Ascot is preparing to open its doors to 12,000 racing fans a day but the coronavirus will still take a significant financial toll on the event. Image Credit: AFP

Dubai: Palace Pier underlined his status as the top miler in Europe by winning the Group 1 Queen anne Stakes, the opening day’s highlight at Royal Ascot on Tuesday, with authority.

Frankie Dettori rode the John Gosden-trained Palace Pier confidently to compensate for the lack of pace in the contest and the pair pulled clear inside the final furlong for a length and-a-half victory over Lope Y Fernandez with Sir Busker back in third.

Twelve months ago, the son of Kingsman won the St. James’s Palace Stakes at the Royal meeting over a shorter trip and he returned to claim another valuable prize for owner Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai.

“It was his first time on real good to firm ground, so he wasn’t so sure on it – but still, he proved again he’s the best miler around,” said Dettori, who thrilled the crowd of 12,000 racegoers to his trademark flying dismount.

Horseracing - Royal Ascot
Hats and fashion were back in equal measure in the stands on the first day of Royal Ascot. Image Credit: Reuters

Gosden, who also trains the high-class Lord North and Mishriff, said that the Juddmonte International (2000m) could be a race that he would consider next for the exciting four-year-old who has won eight of his nine starts.

“You could go up in trip with him, as you can see how relaxed he is,” said the master handler. “He is in the Juddmonte (York Racecourse), but he’s also in the Sussex (Goodwood) and the Prix Jacques le Marois (Deauville, France), 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.”

Palace Pier gifted Dettori with a seventh win in the Queen Anne following Markofdistinction (1990), Allied Forces (1997), Intikhab (1998), Dubai Destination (2003), Refuse to Bend (2004), Ramonti (2007), Palace Pier (2021), while Gosden was winning it for the very first time, and this time in partnership with his son Thandy.

Battaash falls short

It was a bittersweet opening day at the historic Royal meeting as Shadwell’s star sprinter Battaash was beaten to fourth place in the King’s Stand Stakes (G1), a race that he was favoured to win for the first successive year.

The race was won for the first time by Roger Teal and Cieren Fallon, who teamed up with Oxted who returned to his best form in the five-furlong dash.

Fallon, who showed glimpses of his famous father and multiple champion, Kieren Fallon, in the way he rode a composed and well-judged race, said:“It meant a lot. It’s Royal Ascot. It’s a Group One race. They don’t come much bigger than this – it’s a dream come true.

“Crossing that line, I never thought I’d get a feeling like it. What a feeling.”

Meanwhile, 2000 Guineas hero Poetic Flare delivered the performance of the day to win the St James’s Palace Stakes for veteran handler Jim Bolger and his son-in-law rider, Kevin Manning.