Palace Pier is the star attraction in the bet365 Mile at Sandown on Friday.
A dual winner at the Esher venue as a juvenile, the Kingman colt made his mark at the highest level last season with Group One victories in the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot and the Prix Jacques le Marois at Deauville.
He met with defeat for the first time when only third behind French ace The Revenant on his final start of 2020 in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot, but will be widely expected to make a successful return to action for the father-son team of John and Thady Gosden.
Thady Gosden said: “The plan was to go straight to the Lockinge (at Newbury), but we have decided to give Palace Pier a run at Sandown as he seems quite fresh at home.
“He started life off last season in a handicap at Newcastle and ended up winning two Group Ones, so he did well throughout the season, but he had previously shown some good form as a juvenile.
“He lost a shoe coming out of the gate at Ascot on Champions Day. Although he had won on soft ground, the ground at Ascot was bottomless and it was a bit too deep – finishing third was a credit to him.
“He has been working nicely, he appears to be enjoying himself and seems to have improved from three to four.
“I’m sure there will be some nice three-year-old milers emerge, but hopefully he can be among the best of the older ones.”
Palace Pier’s biggest threat appears to be the Roger Varian-trained Khuzaam.
A gelding operation during the off-season appears to have done the trick for the five-year-old, who was thoroughly impressive on All-Weather Championships Finals Day at Lingfield three weeks ago.
Angus Gold, racing manager for the late Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum’s Shadwell operation, said: “Taking on Palace Pier is certainly no easy task, but it will tell us where we are with the horse.
“He’s gone the right way. We gelded him at the end of last year and he has come out and won well twice.
“We want to see where he fits in by running him on Friday.”
Andrew Balding’s Happy Power, who won in Group Three and Group Two company last term, steps up in distance after finishing ninth in the Qipco British Champions Sprint when last seen.
David Simcock’s Bless Him completes the line-up.