The top-ranked British-based horse in the world, Palace Pier, has been ruled out of a mouthwatering clash with young gun Poetic Flare in the Group 1 Qatar Sussex Stakes at Goodwood next Wednesday after suffering a blood disorder.
The four-year-old was a general 6-4 second favourite, although he was 11-10 with one firm, to back up his win in the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot last month for John and Thady Gosden.
The son of Kingman will instead follow a familiar path to the Group 1 Prix Jacques le Marois at Deauville next month, a race he won in 2020.
Palace Pier was ranked the world’s highest-rated racehorse (125) by Longines after his win in the Lockinge Stakes at Newbury in May and followed up in similarly smooth fashion in the Queen Anne in June.
Since then, St Mark’s Basilica (127) has surpassed him courtesy of his recent win in the Coral-Eclipse.
John Gosden said: “Palace Pier had a blood disorder after his win in the Queen Anne and it’s taken some time to come right. He’s now back in full training but the Sussex Stakes at Goodwood will come too soon for him. He'll therefore go straight to the Prix Jacques le Marois at Deauville on August 15.”
Other summer options for Palace Pier had been a step up in trip for races like the Juddmonte International at York, which now seems unlikely, but he could go beyond a mile later on.
Whether he’ll appear on Champions Day at Ascot in October is also yet to be determined as he was unsuited by the very soft ground at the fixture last year. He was third behind The Revenant in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes last season and that remains his only defeat in nine starts.
Poetic Flare odds-on for Sussex glory
Poetic Flare has been installed as 4-6 favourite by Paddy Power for the Sussex Stakes following the news that Palace Pier will miss the race.
Poetic Flare cemented his place at the top of the Classic generation's mile division with an outstanding victory in the St James's Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot.
His performance was ranked equal to the Racing Post Rating of 124 achieved by Palace Pier when he won the race last season. Only Kingman (128) and Bolger's former star Dawn Approach (126) have recorded higher. The last-named went within half-a-length of giving Bolger a first win in the Sussex Stakes in 2013.
Poetic Flare's potential challengers include Alcohol Free, another impressive Group 1 winner from the Royal meeting, and Breeders' Cup hero Order Of Australia who returned to winning form on Sunday.
Tilsit, winner of the Summer Mile on Saturday, and Lope Y Fernandez were cut to single-figure prices along with the aforementioned St Mark's Basilica, who would be a surprise runner with Aidan O'Brien suggesting on Monday he could head to York.