Royal Ascot: All eyes on Goodwood favourite Battaash - and plenty on Palace Pier
The fastest horse in training, the “Batmobile” Battaash, is the headline act on the first day of Royal Ascot 2021 on Tuesday.
The meeting was held behind closed doors last year in the Covid-19 pandemic, but the five-day event will have a crowd of 12,000 people every day as it forms part of the government’s pilot sport events trial.
Tuesday’s action sees three Group Ones take centre-stage, with Palace Pier, a likely leading player for the £1-million Sussex Stakes, the headline act in the opening Queen Anne Stakes at 2.30pm. Trained by John and Thady Gosden, the four-year-old was a smart winner of the St James’s Palace Stakes at the 2020 Royal Meeting and has looked imperious in two starts so far this year. Successful on his seasonal debut at Sandown, he recorded a third Group One victory when landing the Lockinge Stakes at Newbury last time out.
He is the general 4/9 favourite for the Queen Anne and should take plenty of beating under Frankie Dettori. He looks likely to then take in the Sussex Stakes at Goodwood at the back-end of July as he looks to follow in the footsteps of other Sussex Stakes winner for team Gosden, including Too Darn Hot won was a thrilling winner of the event in 2019. His rivals in the Queen Anne are headed by the Aidan O’Brien-trained duo Order Of Australia (6/1), winner of the Breeders’ Cup Mile last term and Lope Y Fernandez (15/2).
The other highlight on the card is Battaash (15/8) bidding to record successive wins in the King’s Stand Stakes for Charlie Hills. The seven-year-old was electric in the five-furlong event last term, before going on to record a fourth straight win in the King George Stakes at Goodwood at the Qatar Goodwood Festival. Battaash will be ridden by regular pilot and Sussex-based jockey Jim Crowley in the event.
Connections are likely to once again take the same route with their exciting sprinter who will be making his return to action at Royal Ascot on Tuesday at 3.40pm. The Dark Angel gelding has not been seen since winning the Nunthorpe Stakes for the second successive time at York in August, but is reported to be in rude health.
Should Battaash win at Royal Ascot, he will also be looking to cement his place in Goodwood history next month as he looks to enhance his record to five straight wins in the King George Stakes. He oozed class on his way to a smooth two and a quarter-length in the 2020 renewal and remains the best sprinter in Britain.
His main rivals in Tuesday’s contest include Winter Power (4/1) who was a stunning winner at York on her comeback and also benefits from the three-year-old fillies’ allowance. She quickened clear in fine style and looks a very exciting prospect for Tim Easterby.
Others who warrant a mention include Que Amoro (14/1), who chased home Battaash in the Nunthorpe and Liberty Beach (15/2). John Quinn’s filly was successful at Haydock on her comeback effort when showing a good attitude to score and was also third behind Battaash in the King George Stakes at Goodwood last summer.
Sussex-born rider Ryan Moore rides Keep Busy (20/1) for John Quinn, with Frankie Dettori on American raider Extravagant Kid (6/1), who Moore was successful on in the Al Quoz Sprint at Meydan on his latest start.
King’s Stand Stakes betting: 2/1 Battaash; 9/2 Winter Power; 6/1 Extravagant Kind; 15/2 Oxted; 9/1 Liberty Beach 15/2; 14/1 Maven, Que Amoro; 20/1 Bar.
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