Hugo Palmer Blog | Saturday

06 Jul 2024
Coral Racing Ambassador, Hugo Palmer, previews his five runners across the cards on Saturday, as well as a preview of the day's feature race, the Group 1 Coral-Eclipse.

13:15 Sandown – Pitney

We were scratching our heads a bit after Newmarket as we really thought he’d go there and be very competitive, but he just didn’t run his race that day. It was much more like it at Chester last time when things didn’t quite go his way, but despite that, he was only beaten a neck, so that was very encouraging. It was soft ground at Chester, and there’s no reason why he won’t handle the better ground here, but having said that, there is some rain forecast at Sandown over the next few days, so we’ll just have to wait and see what the underfoot conditions are like.

This is a competitive little race, but we have a great draw in stall 2, and he comes here in really good order, so if he can put in similar performance to last time, then I expect he’ll go very close indeed.

15:15 Haydock – L’Astronome

L’Astronome really does need some rain, but that comment applies to most of the runners in this. If they miss the rain and it ends up good ground, then I’d say there’s a chance we won’t bother running him, but there is plenty of rain forecast at Haydock over the next 48 hours, so we’ll be keeping our fingers crossed that the ground is on the slow side. He’s in tremendous order at home, and he has been for some time, and as much as we’d have liked to have run him, we felt the ground was too quick at Epsom when we last had him entered, so we really are wanting to hold out for some cut in the ground.

He’s slipped to a mark of 100, which I’m sure he can be very competitive off, and we’ve decided after trying a few trips that a mile and a half is what he wants, so providing the rain does arrive, I think he’s capable of bouncing back to form in this race.

15:50 Haydock – Arabian Cobra

He gave his owners a lovely day out at Ascot last time, but it was always going to be extremely difficult for him to get involved in a race like the Windsor Castle, and I’m sure he’ll appreciate returning to a more realistic level. He ran very well at Windsor on good to soft ground back in May, but he just found the ground a bit lively here at Haydock when finishing behind Dubai Bling, so he’s another who wouldn’t mind a little bit of rain over the next few days.

I see that his brother Darlinghust has done very well over in France on soft ground, but he seemed to struggle on the quick ground when finishing last in the St James’s Palace, so that would back up the theory that Arabian Cobra will prefer a bit more give underfoot. It’s a competitive looking nursery this, but as long as conditions aren’t on the quick side, it wouldn’t surprise me if he showed up very well.

19:50 Carlisle – Far Above Mary

She must be one of the busiest two-year-olds around so far this year, and it is disappointing that she is still a maiden. I didn’t like the way she looked at Chester last time, she just looked quite off colour, and she ran accordingly. She looks much better in herself now, so I hope she can leave that effort behind.

On the pick of her form, she’d definitely have a chance, and Brandon Wilkie’s five pound claim is very valuable. She’ll be heading to the sales after this, so I’m very much hoping she’ll be heading to the sales as a winner.

20:10 Nottingham – It’s Not Risky

I was thinking this would be a small field, but it seems to have filled up quite late, but he is a horse that needs plenty of cover and delivering late, so maybe things will work out perfectly for him in this race. He travelled very well at Doncaster two starts ago, but when Jim [Crowley] pulled him out to deliver his challenge, he just didn’t finish off his race as well as we’d hoped.

He’ll be ridden like a bit of a thief here, so hopefully the race goes to plan, and Aidan Keeley can get him there right on the line.

Coral-Eclipse Preview

The Coral-Eclipse is historically a great race, and while City Of Troy is undoubtedly a very good horse, it is a slight shame that the strength in depth isn’t quite there in this year’s renewal, and that is outlined by the fact that he’s currently priced at 1-3 to win the race. White Birch and Passenger would have been older horses of interest against him, so it’s a shame both have had setbacks that rule them out of the race.

It’s a real shame White Birch couldn’t run, as he’s the one I really think could have put it up to City Of Troy, and I doubt they ever planned to run Luxembourg unless something happened to the Derby winner. I don’t actually think it was a very good Derby this year, but if the same City Of Troy turns up here, then he’s going to take all the beating, but as he showed in the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket, any horse can have an off day.

Ghostwriter’s fourth in the Guineas doesn’t read too badly at all though and providing the ground stays on the quick side at Sandown, then I think he’s probably the one most likely to make a race of it.

Hugo Palmer, Coral Racing Ambassador
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