Jessica Harrington’s Alpine Star had to settle for a valiant second in Deauville as John Gosden’s impressive Palace Pier maintained his unbeaten record with a dominant display under Frankie Dettori in the Prix Jacques le Marois.
alace Pier’s seasonal reappearance in a handicap on the all-weather at Newcastle was 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 heavy ground.
However, the three-year-old responded generously to grab the lead before kicking clear for an ultimately emphatic win.
Coronation Stakes heroine Alpine Star was a clear three-quarter-length second for Harrington, with fellow Irish challengers Circus Maximus and Romanised finishing third and fifth, respectively, for Aidan O’Brien and Ken Condon.
“His main target will be the QEII on Champions Day at Ascot, said Gosden. “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 Dettori’s decision, Gosden said: “I told 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.”
Dettori said: “I made the right choice to come. I knew I had two super horses, and they both won. I was very taken by this performance.
“That’s the best opposition he’s run against – and he just put it to bed in great style.”
Mishriff could be also be in action on Champions Day in October.
There was further success for the raiding party in the Group Three Prix Minerve, with David Menuisier’s Wonderful Tonight causing a 20/1 upset under Tony Piccone. Hot favourite Valia was best of the rest in second, with Dettori fourth aboard Aidan O’Brien’s Laburnum.