David Cleary takes a look at next weekend's big race, and suggests a 20-1 chance against the hot favourite...
"An imposing, attractive colt at three, there's plenty to suggest Tilsit has more to offer and a well-run race could suit him down to the ground."
An odds-on favourite in a Group 1 that has as many as 15 other entries standing their ground at the latest declaration stage ought to offer something for the ante-post punter. Palace Pier, who holds that position in Saturday's Lockinge market, is obviously very hard to find fault with, but every horse has a 'right' price. Is that the case with him?
Palace Pier has clearly the best form, he made a taking winning return against lesser opposition in the Sandown Mile last month and he has no concerns with regard to the likely ground, which at this range and with the given weather forecast, seems most likely to be good to soft.
He has been beaten just once to date, in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot in October. Palace Pier ran around a stone below his best on that occasion, the effort of making ground from a poor position after a slow start taking its toll on soft ground in a race where the pair that beat him held a much handier position.
Palace Pier will find himself in a similar sort of race on Saturday, facing a likely double-figure field; a slow start or a draw away from the pace could compromise his task. Even so, he would need to be as far below form as he was in the QEII to suffer defeat, judged on the established merit of plenty of his likely opponents.
Lord Glitters: Queen Anne likely the main aim
Lord Glitters, for example, is a most likeable sort who is capable of winning at Group 1 level, and he was in good form in Dubai early in the year. The Lockinge, with the potential for a well-run race, ought to be ideal for him, though he flopped in the race two years ago, the last time it was run; he's also likely to be aiming at a repeat win in the Queen Anne at Royal Ascot, the race he won after his previous Lockinge defeat.
Aidan O'Brien relies on Lope Y Fernandez, who spent most of last summer as a sprinter. He's run well back at a mile on his last two starts, at Keeneland in the autumn and at Leopardstown on his return this spring. However, his form doesn't look any better than a few of the others in the field and he looks underpriced at the time of writing.
Tilsit: My Oberon defeat a strong pointer to his chance
So, it's probably best to search for something with potential to improve enough to make an impact, particularly if Palace Pier is below par. The obvious pair are My Oberon and Tilsit. My Oberon has the more obviously positive recent profile, which is why he is less than half the price of Tilsit.
My Oberon has won twice from six starts, having made his debut under a year ago. He won a novice at York on his second start, then looked an improved performer in landing the Earl of Sefton at Newmarket's Craven meeting on his return.
Tilsit has had one fewer outing, though has also won twice, a novice auction at Newcastle and a Group 3 at Goodwood on his second and third starts respectively. It is his victory in the latter that makes him of particular interest at the prices, for he defeated My Oberon fair and square, admittedly in a steadily-run, small-field affair.
Tilsit has been beaten twice since, but he didn't handle the track at Newmarket when thrown in against Kameko and Benbatl on his final start last year and it's easy enough to forgive a slightly below-par effort against some high-class international rivals in Saudi Arabia back in February.
An imposing, attractive colt at three, there's plenty to suggest Tilsit has more to offer and a well-run race could suit him down to the ground.
Although Palace Pier will be a tough nut to crack, Tilsit at 21.020/1 on the Betfair Sportsbook makes a fair bit of appeal.
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