Frankie Dettori and Palace Pier held out to win a throbbing battle with Poetic Flare and clinch the Jacques le Marois Group One Award at Deauville for the second year in a row on Sunday.
The Italian rider brought his mount, the favorite 5-6, from behind and wide for a late challenge with half a stadium to go. He got the best of the former leader Order Of Australia, but had to endure a strong challenge from the runner-up.
The odds winner remains undefeated this season after wins at Sandown, Newbury and Royal Ascot after clinging to the Order of Australia by a neck a length and a half. The horse’s victories at the Lockinge Stakes and Queen Anne kept the winner at the top of the European grinding division this campaign, but this was the litmus test against arguably the best of three years in eight furlongs and he surpassed it even though he had a recent setback and was reportedly only “80% ready”.
A rematch between the top two could be on the cards at the QEII Stakes at Ascot on Champions Day in October, but joint coach John Gosden later suggested he will get a long look at the Champion Stakes for ten furlongs on the same card.
Gosden said: “I think it was a very clean race. They went at a pretty sensible pace, with the Order of Australia controlling him and he finished third, so it wasn’t a race sitting in the back. We were second to last and they picked up speed and speed. In that sense, it was a kind of speed test.
“He has done well. I made no secret of the fact that I was sick with a blood disorder and missed the Sussex [Stakes at Glorious Goodwood]. I came here with minimal work, he probably came here with 80%. Like Frankie said, his class got him through, but he’s taking quite a hit. I had 10 days left for this race, but they were not going to move Jacques le Marois! “
Paddy Power cut Palace Pier to 7-4 from 2-1 for the Ascot Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, a race in which he finished third in the final period. Gosden confirmed that his position will go directly to Champions Day in October, but raised the Champion Stakes as a possible alternative to QEII.
He added: “He is a beautiful horse and a lovely horse to be around. It has this incredible cruising speed and acceleration, [but] I wouldn’t be afraid to go up to a mile and a quarter.
“I think we will wait for Champions Day. When you run a horse like this, don’t come back too fast, so we’ll wait for Champions’ Day and possibly run more than a mile or even a mile and a quarter. “
When asked if Palace Pier could race the Breeders’ Cup Mile in November, Gosden said: “That’s a long way. Del Mar is a track that I really like, I’ve had a lot of success there and a lot of good friends there, but that’s a long way to go at the moment. “
Dettori siad: “I love the horse, it is a pleasure to ride it and the best miler I have ever ridden. He has a great change of pace and goes on any terrain. I was in the queue for [Victor Ludorum] and keeping an eye on Kevin [Manning on Poetic Flare] and got behind the couple when they kicked home. He was running alone in the main at the end, but they fought hard at the end. “
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism