Palace Pier maintained his unbeaten record with an impressive victory in the Group 1 Prix Jacques le Marois at Deauville on Sunday.
On ground officially described as heavy, Frankie Dettori settled the son of Kingman at the back of the seven-runner field as Pretreville set the early fractions in the straight mile contest.
The filly Alpine Star made her bid for glory two furlongs out but Dettori had the move covered and asked his mount to put the race to bed a furlong from home.
Alpine Star ran on gamely but the colt had her measure and scored by three-quarters of a length, with Circus Maximum five lengths further back in third, ahead of Persian King and Irish raider Romanised.
Palace Pier, trained by John Gosden for Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum, is now unbeaten in five starts. After winning both juvenile outings, he made his seasonal return in a handicap on the all-weather at Newcastle before making the step up to Group 1 level in the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot.
The Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot on British Champions Day on Saturday, October 17 could now be on the agenda for Palace Pier, when he could clash with brilliant Sussex Stakes scorer Mohaather.
Group joy for Chris Wright
Owner-breeder Chris Wright has been associated with some top-class fillies over the years, including outstanding performers Culture Vulture and Chriselliam, and he may have found another in the shape of Wonderful Tonight, decisive winner of the Group 3 Prix Minerve (1m4½f) at Deauville.
The daughter of Le Havre, trained by David Menuisier, already had a win on heavy ground in France to her name, scoring at Saint-Cloud as a juvenile, and jockey Tony Piccone soon had his mount at the head of affairs.
Despite being a little keen on the front end, Wonderful Tonight responded to her jockey’s urgings as the paced gradually increased and she ran on strongly in the straight, despite drifting over to the stands’ rail, to record a comfortable two and a half length success over favourite Valia, representing the Aga Khan.
Wonderful Tonight, named after the song by Eric Clapton that featured on his 1977 album Slowhand – released on RSO Records, not Wright’s label Chrysalis – was purchased at the 2018 Arqana August Yearling Sale for €40,000.
James Ferguson takes Listed prize
She may have been a 16-1 chance but that didn’t bother Zoetic, ready winner of the Listed St Hugh’s Fillies’ Stakes (5f) at Newbury for trainer James Ferguson in his first full season with a licence.
Oisin Murphy bided his time on the two-year-old daughter of Kodiac before making his challenge inside the final furlong, his partner showing a willing attitude to charge home and score by three-quarters of a length over the Tom Clover-trained Fairy Dust.
Zoetic, racing for Glentree Pastoral Pty Ltd, was following up her maiden success on the all-weather at Wolverhampton. She was purchased for £52,000 by Badgers Bloodstock at the 2019 Goffs UK Premier Yearling Sale.
Favourite lands Great St Wilfrid Handicap
Tim Easterby has his horses in fine form and the North Yorkshire handler celebrated a treble at Ripon on Sunday, headed by Staxton’s success in the Great St Wilfrid Handicap (6f).
The 4-1 favourite made use of his high draw on the near side rail and was always prominent under Duran Fentiman, coming home three-quarters of a length in front of 100-1 outsider Royal Residence, trained by Ann Duffield.
Owned by Ontoawinner 10 & Partner, Staxton earned his connections £24,900 in winning the sixth race of his career. By contrast Dakota Gold collected almost double that amount (£46,687) when successful in the race a year ago, reflecting the pressures on prize-money in the current environment.