When the eyes of an expectant sporting world are on you, there is no such thing as an easy penalty kick, be it in the Euros at Wembley or on the shortest odds-on favourite of Royal Ascot week.
But Frankie Dettori and Palace Pier put their metaphorical ball into the back of a bulging Queen Anne Stakes net.
So, as far as perfect starts go for organisers of this Covid restricted week it was just about the perfect result.
Palace Pier justified odds-on favouritism in the Queen Anne Stakes for jockey Frankie Dettori
A 74th royal meeting winner for Ascot’s favourite son — only Lester Piggott has now ridden more — and a flying dismount to rev up his army of fans.
There was a moment as the slow early tempo quickened when Palace Pier momentarily came off the bridle, but it only lasted a few strides as Dettori exuded the confidence of a man driving a Ferrari being chased by a convoy of Morris Minors for the length-and-a- half win from Lope Y Fernandez.
It was a seventh Queen Anne Stakes win for Dettori in the race he opened his Royal Ascot account on with Markofdistinction in 1991.
The 50-year-old jockey said: ‘Wow, What can I say? He has shown again that he is the best miler around. You can rely on Palace Pier.’
Oxted was a first royal meeting winner for trainer Roger Teal and jockey Cieren Fallon
With an eye on his stablemate — the challenge of Stradivarius for a record-equalling fourth Ascot Gold Cup on Thursday — Dettori added: ‘The pressure was on us. We can breathe again until the next big one.’
Trainer John Gosden had had 55 Royal Ascot winners but this was his first in the Queen Anne Stakes and his first since he entered into a training partnership with son Thady.
The decision he has to make now is whether to step up Palace Pier, who has won eight of his nine races, to a mile and a quarter or stick to a mile.
If Palace Pier does the latter and heads to the Sussex Stakes at Glorious Goodwood next month, lying in wait could be Jim Bolger’s Poetic Flare. He delivered the opening day’s most spectacular performance with a four-and-a-quarter-length win from Lucky Vega in the St James’s Palace Stakes under Kevin Manning.
Oxted was a first royal meeting winner for trainer Roger Teal and rider Cieren Fallon (pictured)
It was a fourth run in a Group One race in 45 days for the 7-2 favourite, who won the 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket, was runner-up in the Irish 2,000 and sixth in the French 2,000 on ground considered too soft for him.
Bolger said: ‘I have to admit I was expecting a performance like that. He had improved so much and was so well. He is an exceptional horse.’
Battaash’s attempt to win back-to-back King’s Stand Stakes failed when the Charlie Hills-trained 11-8 favourite got sucked into a pace burn-up. He hit the front going easily under Jim Crowley but the tank emptied. He ultimately finished fourth behind Oxted, a first royal meeting winner for trainer Roger Teal and jockey Cieren Fallon.
A delighted Teal said: ‘I’m speechless because we’ve dreamt about these days for so long. A stable of our size doing this is amazing.’
Meanwhile Hollie Doyle landed her breakthrough win at Royal Ascot last year but the presence of a crowd including members of her family made her second royal meeting victory even more special as she clung on to win the Copper Horse Stakes on 33-1 shot Amtiyaz.
The four-year-old trained by John and Thady Gosden beat fast-finishing Dubious Affair by a head.
Hollie Doyle clung on to win the Copper Horse Stakes on 33-1 shot Amtiyaz at Royal Ascot
Amtiyaz carries the colours of owner Imad Alsagar, the Derby winning owner who signed Doyle last season, giving her the chance to ride more quality mounts.
Doyle, 24, who won the Duke of Edinburgh Stakes on Scarlet Dragon 12 months ago, said: ‘Last year was incredible but to have the crowd here this time is great. Even some of my family have come which makes it even more special. They were shouting and screaming.
‘After the win last year, the pressure was on because you want to do it every year.’
Four-year-old trained by John and Thady Gosden beat fast-finishing Dubious Affair by a head
Doyle’s big ride this week is Trueshan in Thursday’s Gold Cup and the forecast for thunderstorms is making it more likely the soft-ground lover will line up.
Doyle’s victory means there have now been winners ridden by female jockeys at the last three Royal Ascots. When Hayley Turner won Thanks Be in 2019 it ended a 32-year wait for a female rider since Gay Kelleway won the Queen Alexandra Stakes on Sprowston Boy.
But there was no joy on Tuesday for Grand National winning jockey Rachael Blackmore, who ran into a series of dead-ends on 5-2 favourite Cape Gentleman in the Ascot Stakes as she finished fifth to Reshoun.
The Ian Williams-trained 66-1 shot held off M C Muldoon by a short head but there was a sting in the tail for jockey William Buick who was banned for 11 days and fined £1,150 for his use of the whip.