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Royal Ascot day one: Palace Pier faces two Aidan O'Brien challengers in Queen Anne

Sun 13 Jun 2021

Hot favourite Palace Pier is set to face 10 rivals in the opening Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot on Tuesday.

The Kingman colt won a thrilling renewal of the St James’s Palace Stakes on the same card 12 months ago – and went on to double his Group One tally in the Prix Jacques le Marois at Deauville.

John and Thady Gosden’s stable star suffered defeat on his final start of 2020 when only third in the QEII at Ascot in October.

However, having bolted up on his return to action at Sandown before slamming his rivals in the Lockinge at Newbury last month, Palace Pier is odds-on to get Royal Ascot punters off to a flyer in the hands of Frankie Dettori.

Aidan O’Brien saddles both Breeders’ Cup Mile winner Order Of Australia and Lope Y Fernandez. The latter needs to bounce back from a disappointing effort in the Lockinge on his latest appearance.

There are two previous winners of the Queen Anne in contention, with Eve Johnson Houghton’s shock 2018 scorer Accidental Agent and David O’Meara’s 2019 hero Lord Glitters both back for another shot.

Sir Michael Stoute’s Regal Reality and James Tate’s Lockinge third Top Rank also feature along with Prince Eiji (Roger Varian), Sir Busker (William Knight), Bless Him (David Simcock) and Pogo (Charlie Hills).

The only horse not declared from the confirmation stage is Tilsit.

Battaash returns in King's Stand

Last year’s winner Battaash leads the way in Tuesday’s King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot after all 16 horses stood their ground at the 48-hour final declaration stage.

The seven-year-old will be making a belated seasonal debut after suffering an injury during the winter, but he has been successful first time out in all five previous campaigns.

The Charlie Hills-trained speedster took the prize in grand style 12 months ago after finishing runner-up in 2018 and 2019.

He will be a warm order to repeat the dose but is expected to face strong opposition from younger sprinters headed by Tim Easterby’s three-year-old Winter Power.

Roger Teal’s Oxted, winner of the July Cup in 2020, drops down to the minimum trip for the first time in a bid to land a second Group One.

Liberty Beach, third 12 months ago, returns for more on the back of winning the Temple Stakes at Haydock last month.

There are two American raiders in Brendan Walsh’s Al Quoz Sprint victor Extravagant Kid and Wesley Ward’s Maven, while The Queen is represented by King’s Lynn.

Ward's Kaufymaker among Coventry Stakes contenders

Ward has the ante-post favourite, Kaufymaker, in the Coventry Stakes.

The only filly in the 17-runner field, the daughter of Jimmy Creed made a big impression when romping home on her debut at Keeneland two months ago.

Aidan O’Brien relies on The Acropolis to give him a record 10th victory in the Group Two for two-year-olds over six furlongs. Masseto, trained by his son, Donnacha, is the other Irish-trained raider.

John and Thady Gosden have two live contenders in Dhadab and Tolstoy, as does Richard Hannon in Gisburn and Secret Strength.

Jim Goldie’s admirable eight-year-old Euchen Glen heads 14 runners for the Wolferton Stakes.

The Authorized gelding took the Group Three Brigadier Gerard Stakes at Sandown last month and has to carry a 5lb penalty.

A competitive line-up includes Solid Stone, Stormy Antarctic, Felix and Patrick Sarsfield.

If Felix can triumph, he will provide trainer Marco Botti with a second Royal Ascot success after Aljazzi triumphed in the 2018 Duke of Cambridge Stakes.

Felix made significant strides on the all-weather in the winter before taking his form to a new level in Dubai when third to Lord North in the Dubai Turf – the outstanding piece of form on offer in the Listed line-up.

“The Wolferton is the plan, and it has been for a while – he loves good ground, and a mile and a quarter should suit him,” said Botti.

“He seems in good order. We freshened him up since Dubai, and everything has gone well with him.

“Oisin Murphy will ride. He rode him well in Dubai, and it’s nice he can maintain the partnership.

“He’s arguably got the best piece of form in the race – finishing third in a Group One – but while he’s dropping down into a Listed race, because it’s at Royal Ascot, it will be as strong as a Group Two or a Group Three really.

“It’s a good race, but if he can show the same form he did in Dubai he should have a good chance.

“We weren’t tempted by the Prince of Wales’s Stakes. We’d like to run in the Arlington Million later in the year if all goes to plan – and because he’s a gelding, we’ll avoid the really top-class horses if we can.”

Willie Mullins is three-handed with M C Muldoon, Rayapour and Royal Illusion as Ireland’s champion jumps trainer bids to win the Ascot Stakes for a fourth time in seven years.

The Alan King-trained Coeur De Lion, winner 12 months ago, is among the 20 final declarations.

King has a leading fancy in top-weight On To Victory in the concluding Copper Horse Handicap.

Mullins goes for this mile-and-three-quarter prize with Saldier after 16 horses were declared, plus three reserves.

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