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    12 June 2023

    Hills’ Cicero’s Present Triggers St James’s Palace Excitement

    The Unbeaten Cicero’s Gift Takes on the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot

    Charlie Hills’ unbeaten runner, Cicero’s Gift, is set to take on the unknown as he lines up for the prestigious St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot next week. Despite being undefeated in three starts this season, trainer Charlie Hills is keen to see how his inexperienced horse fares against formidable rivals such as 2000 Guineas winner Chaldean and Paddington who won the Irish version.

    Cicero’s Gift has made rapid progress this spring and is currently a general third favourite with odds of 3-1 for the Group One mile contest run on the round course. On his debut in a Newbury novices’ race last October, he was an unfancied 22-1 chance but ran well to score with ease. He returned in March to take a restricted novice over an extended mile on the all-weather track at Wolverhampton before winning by five-and-a-half lengths in a conditions race at Goodwood last time out which propelled him into contention for a mouth-watering clash with two Classic winners.

    Hills said: “He did it really well at Goodwood last time. I was delighted with it. He has improved with every run he’s had.”

    A Big Team From Faringdon Place:

    Faringdon Place handler Charlie Hills is no stranger to recent success at Royal Ascot having trained Dark Shift (2022) and Afaak (2019), both of whom landed victories in their respective races including Battaash who struck gold in King’s Stand (2020). Hills is confident that he might have quite a big Royal Ascot team – about 20-odd this time. He said: “We are still finalising plans but we have a nice team.”

    Galeron and Orazio:

    Galeron, who was fourth in the 2000 Guineas, holds an entry in the St James’s Palace but could go elsewhere. Hills added: “Galeron has done very well.” Cicero’s Gift is less exposed than Galeron, so it will be interesting to see how they both fare.

    Orazio is the general market leader for Wokingham Handicap with odds of 8-1. He has won three of five starts on turf including his last two races with a clear-cut victory over the same six-furlong course last month filling Hills with every confidence that he can complete a hat-trick.

    The Unpredictability Factor:

    “It is always hard to win at the meeting,” says Hills. “Just one winner would be nice and if I had to pick one, I think Orazio would have a good chance.” However, unpredictability remains high as Tanmawwy could join his stablemate in the same race despite being a well-held favourite at Newmarket last month.

    Khaadem similarly holds an entry in Wokingham Handicap. The consistent seven-year-old won Group Two King George Stakes at Goodwood last July before finishing fourth in Nunthorpe at York.


    Cicero’s Gift may be unbeaten so far this season but only time will tell if he can maintain his winning streak against some tough competition like Chaldean and Paddington at Royal Ascot next week. Nonetheless, with a big team from Faringdon Place and some promising contenders like Orazio and Khaadem in the running, anything can happen at this highly-anticipated event.

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