Queen Elizabeth II Stakes Tips: Veracious the value play

Queen Elizabeth II Tips: We pick out our best bet for Saturday's Group 1 showpiece at Ascot.
Queen Elizabeth II Tips: We pick out our best bet for Saturday's Group 1 showpiece at Ascot.

Steve Chambers previews Saturday's hotly-anticipated renewal of the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, which sees the unbeaten Palace Pier line up as the red-hot favourite in the Ascot Group 1 on British Champions Day...

It may have been a Flat season remembered with a tinge of sadness with racecourses awash with empty grandstands due to the Coronavirus pandemic forcing racing behind closed doors, but the 2020 campaign has served up some memorable stories, and the final chapter will be written at Ascot on Saturday afternoon.

British Champions Day will attract the elite equine talents, all bidding for one final victory this season, and one of the feature races is the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, which is a one-mile contest that has been won by such superstars as Brigadier Gerard, Dubai Millennium and Frankel.

John Gosden's Palace Pier heads into the race with a perfect record, as five wins from five races has rocketed him into the spotlight this season, and the three-year-old son of Kingman has been installed as an odds-on favourite for the contest. A hugely impressive one-length winner of the St James's Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot in June, Gosden's colt will return to that venue to try and notch up a second career Group 1 at the Berkshire venue.

Handed a trip to France for his most recent start, Palace Pier was a comfortable winner of the Group 1 Prix Jacques Le Marois, where he beat Alpine Star by three quarters of a length. Given a break of a couple of months by Gosden, Palace Pier will look to continue his unbeaten streak and maintain his 100% record and receiving weight from some of his older rivals, he looks the one to beat if he can reproduce the same form he has shown this season. 

At the time of writing, the going is soft, heavy in places, so Palace Pier could well have to deal with testing conditions, but he won the aforementioned Prix Jacques Le Marois on heavy ground, meaning the underfoot conditions shouldn't pose too many problems, so it's hard to pick holes in the race favourite, and he's entitled to be a warm order. 

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Palace Pier will face some classy opposition, with the Andrew Balding-trained classic winner Kameko looking as the biggest danger according to the betting. A superb winner of the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket at the start of the season, Kameko then suffered a string of defeats, with fourth-placed finishes in the Derby, Sussex Stakes and Juddmonte International, but he gained a confidence-boosting success in the Group 2 Joel Stakes at Newbury last month.

A half a length winner of that contest, Kameko got the better of Regal Reality and Benbatl, and the latter of that duo will look to reverse the form when taking his chance this weekend. However, Kameko, who appears to be running over his optimum trip of a mile can frank that form with the Godolphin raider, who looks to be up against it and Balding's charge will look to down Palace Pier. But, while Palace Pier has been a model of consistency this season, Kameko has disappointed at times, so while he is a class act on his day he could well come unstuck against a proven top notch performer in Palace Pier, who can win the duel of the three-year-olds.

Seven of the last ten runnings of the race have been won by three-year-olds, who benefit from a 3 lb advantage over their older rivals. The older brigade are spearheaded by five-year-old The Revenant, who finished a superb second to King Of Change in this race 12 months ago, and the French son of Dubawi will be looking to go one better here. Hovering around the 6/1 mark at the time of writing, The Revenant was last seen winning a Group 2 at Longchamp earlier this month, but that was his first start since his run in the QEII last year, so while he will strip fitter for the run, it's hard to see him having enough to down some more race-fit rivals, who are potentially improve, so the European contender can be ignored.

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With Palace Pier appearing to be a cut above his rivals, it looks like the rest of the field will be vying to bag each-way spots, and while the Queen Anne Stakes winner Circus Maximus has shown that he can cut it at Group 1 level at Ascot, his best performances for this season may be past him.

Two at bigger prices that are worthy of a mention are the Simon & Ed Crisford-trained Century Dream and Sir Michael Stoute's Veracious. The former was seventh in this race 12 months ago, so has shown that he can at least put up a bold effort at the highest level, and having won the Diomed Stakes and Celebration Mile this season, the six-year-old shows he's in fine heart this season. However, he disappointed last time out when well fancied for the Boomerang Mile in Ireland, and he could only finish fifth, so he will need to bounce back considerably to play a primary role her.

Veracious may be as big as 33/1 for this contest, at the time of writing, but the Stoute mare has finished fourth twice and third on her three previous visits to Ascot, so she has shown she can perform with credit at the track. A Group 1 winner of the Falmouth Stakes at Newmarket earlier in the season highlights her class, but that did come on good to firm ground. Slower conditions are expected at the weekend, but her last visit to Ascot was in this race 12 months ago, where she finished fourth behind King Of Change, and this year's renewal may lack significant strength in depth.

She is likely to find one or two too good on the day with Palace Pier looking a good thing, but at 33/1 she is worth a speculative each-way play in a race that is wide open behind the red-hot jolly and Stoute, who won this race three times in the 1980s, can unleash another eye-catching runner in the shape of his five-year-old mare Veracious, who looks an interesting runner.


Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, Ascot, Saturday 17th October - back Veracious each-way at 33/1


Queen Elizabeth II Stakes
Veracious silk


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