Marois conditions set to suit Palace Pier – but Poetic Flare ‘huge threat’

John Gosden is pleased to see the ground drying out in favour of last year’s winner Palace Pier ahead of Sunday’s Prix Jacques le Marois at Deauville.

While the highest-rated horse in Britain did win on testing ground 12 months ago, his only defeat in a nine-race career to date came when the mud was flying at Ascot on Champions Day.

Palace Pier was forced to miss a clash with 2000 Guineas hero Poetic Flare in the Sussex Stakes, but the two will meet this weekend.

“He had a blood disorder going into Goodwood and it just took a little time to get over it. We’re just finding our way back, he’s worked well in towards the race but you could do without those issues coming in the middle of the season,” Gosden told Sky Sports Racing.

“He won the Jacques le Marois last year, but it will be different conditions this year. It’s dry and warm and it’s a small but elite field.

“Like most horses I think he just wants good ground, they can show their acceleration on good ground and that is absolutely his favourite.”

Although Poetic Flare was beaten by Alcohol Free at Goodwood, he had earlier been extremely impressive in the St James’s Palace Stakes and Gosden is wary of the threat he poses.

“He is a huge threat, obviously, I don’t think he was entirely in love with the ground at Goodwood but he’s a phenomenal horse and has put in such great performances – he’s the top three-year-old colt,” said Gosden.

“It’s a very smart race but so it should be, it’s the top mile race in France.”

Derab, a half-brother to Enable, runs on Saturday
Derab, a half-brother to Enable, runs on Saturday (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

A day earlier Gosden runs Derab in the Prix Guillaume d’Ornano, a half-brother to Enable.

He was unplaced in the French Derby behind St Mark’s Basilica, but Gosden feels he had excuses that day.

“He was drawn on the outside and he got a bad bump. When you are drawn on the outside there it’s a real killer. He ran a very nice race the other day when he was beaten by a pretty exceptional four-year-old (Real World) I thought, in the Listed (race at Newbury),” said Gosden.

“He probably likes it on the easy side of good, but it’s the last big three-year-old only race and we won it last year with Mishriff. It’s a very valuable race.”

Speaking of Mishriff, Gosden said: “The Juddmonte on Wednesday is the plan. We don’t have to give quite as many pounds (to St Mark’s Basilica) this time (as in the Eclipse) and if it’s faster ground and on a flatter track that might help, but that’s taking nothing away from the winner.

“They are the last two Prix du Jockey Club winners. Our fellow will sharpen up for the run as well, he’d wintered earlier, he’d been off a long time.

“Who knows what he’ll do later in the year, we’ll go one step at a time. All things are possible.

“He’s in good order and I’m happy with his work.”

Another Gosden star heading to York is Stradivarius, who was taken out of his Goodwood Cup defence following a deluge of rain.

“Hopefully it doesn’t pour down and York is the plan,” he said.

“We’d longed to run at Goodwood, but there was 60mm of rain and 16 the night before so it was pretty waterlogged.

“We’d run him on ground like that before at Ascot and didn’t want to make the mistake again.

“I think so (the same Stradivarius). He is a seven-year-old full entire and to that extent, you know, life will catch up with all of us eventually.”

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