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He's a horse who likes to dominate – Hugo Palmer's Saturday Preview

16 Sep 2023
Coral Racing Ambassador, Hugo Palmer, provides an exclusive preview of his five runners at Chester on Saturday afternoon, as well as a look ahead to the day's feature race, The St Leger Stakes at Doncaster.

14:05 Chester – L’Astronome

L’Astronome is a lovely horse who’s recently joined us from Francis-Henri Graffard in France and I’m really looking forward to his first run for us. Its not very often you get a horse of his quality in the middle of their career, so he really is a great addition to the Manor House team.

I’m certainly not criticising the previous management when I say this, but he gives the impression he’s really improved since arriving with us. I spoke with Francis Graffard who is a good friend of mine, and he just said he can be a bit of a pain and it’s difficult to get him to relax, so I think being here in a quieter environment as opposed to the hustle and bustle of a busy training centre like Chantilly has certainly benefitted him.

His first few pieces of work were nothing to write home about and it just seemed he was going through the motions, but his last piece of work on Wednesday was really pleasing, and I just hope he hasn’t left his race on the gallops.

He does have a bit to find on ratings, and he’s obviously never ran at Chester before, but hopefully he can handle the track, and I’m really looking forward to running him.

14:40 Chester – Box To Box

We’ve got a rotten draw in stall 10 here, but he had a rotten draw when running well here at the May festival, and if you are going to end up with a bad draw at Chester, the mile and a quarter start is perhaps one of the better places to get it.

He’s run well with cut in the ground before, but I wouldn’t have minded it being a bit quicker for him, but I suppose that’s the risk you take when you wait for a race in the middle of September.

He’s going to need a bit of luck and for things to fall right for him, but he loves Chester and I think this is his ideal trip, so although he has a couple of challenges to face, I’m hopeful he can run well once again.

15:52 Chester – Hackman

Again, we’ve been a bit unlucky with the draw for Hackman, which is a bit annoying, but sometimes when the ground is on the soft side it can get a bit chewed up on the rail, so perhaps its not as bad as it first seemed.

His sole win came at Chester so we know he handles the track, and he made all on soft ground that day, so although conditions should be fine for him, it will be difficult to employ those tactics here from that draw. Hopefully he can break smartly and get himself into a good position, but again we will need a bit of luck in running.

It is slightly calmer waters here than what he’s been contesting for the majority of the season, and although he seemed to stay 6f at York last time, I don’t think he’ll have any problem coming back in trip here, and hopefully he can finish strongly and deliver his challenge as the race unfolds late on.

16:25 Chester – Order Of Malta

Order Of Malta has had a bit more luck with the draw than most of our other runners, and he shaped at Newbury last time like he’d relish this step up in trip. The dream is that he might develop into a Chester Cup horse, but the chances are that won’t be next year, and it will be as a five-year-old.

He’s a big horse and he’s strengthened and improved all year, and although this is his first go at Chester, big horses can go well at Chester as Rajinsky has proven on a number of occasions.

He seems in good form at home, so hopefully he can get a good position and get into a nice rhythm and its still very early days for him so I’m hopeful there’ll be plenty more improvement to come.

17:00 Chester – Roman Dragon

Roman Dragon has been raised 3lb for finishing second here last time, and while it seemed harsh at the time, the winner that day went and won a nice race at Ascot last weekend, so maybe its not as harsh as it first seemed. The handicapper has had a chance to reassess him but hasn’t put him up further which I do think is fair enough.

He’s a horse who likes to dominate, and his ideal scenario is where he can get out in the lead, take a breather in the middle of the race then kick on turning for home and they never get to him. He’s drawn in stall six of eight, so while its not a disaster, I wouldn’t mind a slightly lower draw for us to employ those tactics, but we can’t do anything about that.

He’s now off a mark where he is going to have to produce a career-best, but he does love Chester, and he finds it slightly easier to dominate here over the 6f rather than the shorter trip he’s tackled on his last couple of runs, so I’d be hopeful he can run another big race.


St Leger Preview


It looks a pretty open race to me, and I would have fancied Gregory, but the fact that Frankie rides Arrest would make me think that perhaps neither of them are good enough to win this.

Aidan O’Brien has four in the race, but it appears Continuous is his main hope here. Write any of Aidan’s horses off at your peril, but it was well publicised that this horse was sold to Hong Kong and then failed the vet, and I can’t believe a trainer of Aidan’s experience would allow a horse that was capable of winning a classic to be sold to Hong Kong, so that would be a good enough reason to make me look elsewhere.

That leads me to where I want to get to which is the King’s horse Desert Hero. Racing benefitted to an enormous extent from the patronage of the late Queen, and if the King were able to win a classic on his first year on the throne, then I think it would cement his enjoyment of the sport for years to come.

My hope is that Desert Hero wins the St Leger, and I think he’s good enough to do so. He’s on the upgrade and he’s done precious little wrong, so he’d be the one I’d side with in what admittedly is a very open race.


Hugo Palmer, Coral Racing Ambassador

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