Palace Pier tops Sandown hopefuls

Palace Pier is the star name among eight entries for the bet365 Mile at Sandown.

The four-year-old, who represents John and Thady Gosden, won his first five starts – including the St James’s Palace Stakes and Prix Jacques Le Marois – before meeting with his only defeat to date when third behind The Revenant in the QEII Stakes on Champions Day at Ascot.

Palace Pier boasts a rating of 125, which puts him 9lb ahead of the next best in Friday’s Group Two – Roger Varian’s All-Weather Mile Championships winner Khuzaam and John Quinn’s Safe Voyage, who was last seen at the Breeders’ Cup meeting.

The Group Three bet365 Gordon Richards Stakes has drawn nine possibles on the same card, including the Gosdens’ one-time Classic hope Waldkonig – who returned to winning form at Pontefract this month.

Dante first and second, Thunderous and Highest Ground, could renew rivalry for Mark Johnston and Sir Michael Stoute respectively – while St Leger fifth Hukum and Saudi Cup also-ran Extra Elusive also feature.

The bet365 Classic Trial is Friday’s other Group Three and has 20 contenders, headed by Zetland Stakes winner Lone Eagle for Martyn Meade.

Trawlerman and Uncle Bryn feature for the Gosden team – while Charlie Appleby has three possibles in nine-length Nottingham winner Adayar, Yibir and Wirko.

David Menuisier is also planning to unleash Belloccio, who is unbeaten in two starts but unlikely to take up his Qipco 2000 Guineas entry next month.

The Sussex trainer said: “He won’t be running in the Guineas – we’ll give him a French Derby trial instead.

“He’s going to Sandown for the Classic Trial, then we might look at a French Derby trial next month or the Dante, if he shows he’s good enough.

“His form last year was good. He won at Salisbury, and the second (Aleas) has won twice since and the third (Mohaafeth) won at Newmarket earlier in the week.

“Then he won a Listed race at Toulouse, and the placed horses there had some nice form too. He’s a nice horse, but I think a mile would be too short for him now, so we’ll move up to 10 furlongs.”

Aidan O’Brien has Hector De Maris and Sir Lucan in the mix, with Joseph O’Brien entering Southern Lights and Isle Of Sark.

Etonian would be a notable contender for Richard Hannon after winning the Solario Stakes at the track last term, while Johnston’s dual all-weather winner Sea The Shells and Hugo Palmer’s Irish Legend are so far unbeaten.