Palace Pier is the star attraction on what promises to be a fascinating afternoon at Sandown on Friday.
The Kingman colt was unbeaten in his first five starts for John Gosden, including Group One triumphs in the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot and the Prix Jacques le Marois at Deauville last summer.
Palace Pier tasted defeat for the first time when rounding off his campaign with a third placed finish behind French star The Revenant in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot in October, but will be a hot favourite to make a successful return under Frankie Dettori.
His three rivals in the Group Two bet365 Mile include the Roger Varian-trained Khuzaam, who ran out an emphatic winner on All-Weather Championships Finals Day at Lingfield three weeks ago.
The quartet is completed by Andrew Balding’s Happy Power and Bless Him from David Simcock’s yard.
The first of three Pattern races on the card is the Group Three bet365 Gordon Richards Stakes, for which seven horses have been declared.
Gosden, who now trains in partnership with his son Thady, again has a leading contender in the form of Waldkonig. The one-time Classic hope steps up in class after making a winning reappearance in a Pontefract handicap earlier in the month.
Sir Michael Stoute saddles Highest Ground, who beat Waldkonig in a novice event at Haydock last season, before finishing second when odds-on for the rescheduled Dante Stakes at York. He disappointed on his final start of 2020 in the Darley Stakes at Newmarket.
Mark Johnston’s Thunderous makes his first appearance since winning the Dante in July, while Hollie Doyle’s mount Extra Elusive – trained by Roger Charlton – returns to turf action after finishing well beaten but on dirt in February’s Saudi Cup.
Desert Encounter (Simcock), Hukum (Owen Burrows) and Winter Reprise (David Menuisier) are the other hopefuls.
Yibir and Adayar give Charlie Appleby a strong hand in the Group Three bet365 Classic Trial.
The Godolphin handler has made a flying start to the season with his three-year-olds and will be hoping one or both of this pair can throw their hat into the ring for the Derby at Epsom in early June.
William Buick is aboard Yibir, who won a conditions race at Newbury when last seen in September, with James Doyle taking the ride on runaway Nottingham maiden winner Adayar.
Trawlerman is a third Godolphin representative, trained by the Gosden team.
Martyn Meade will have high hopes for Lone Eagle, who won three of his four starts as a juvenile including the Group Three Zetland Stakes, while Irish hopes are carried by Aidan O’Brien’s Sir Lucan.
Recovery Run (Balding), Etonian (Richard Hannon) and Belloccio (Menuisier) also feature in what should be prove an informative affair.