Hugo Palmer - High Hopes For Set Piece At Newbury Tomorrow

11 min

Matchbook Ambassador Hugo Palmer runs the rule over his chances for the weekend ahead.

I’m looking forward to running Set Piece in the Listed Steventon Stakes at Newbury on Saturday.

I’m really happy with him, we’ve minded him, we’ve taken our time. He wasn’t quite 100% for Royal Ascot. He just had a little bit of snot in his throat. We could have taken a chance and run him in the Britannia, but racing in the Britannia off a mark of 104, there would have been no hiding place, and I just thought that it wasn’t the thing to do when he wasn’t quite 100%.

We’ve changed his box and changed his bedding, and I’m happy with how he has responded.

We’ve been happy with his work.

He’s not ungenuine, he’s just a little lazy, so we worked him in blinkers, and he worked great.

He travelled sweetly, he really responded well to the blinkers, so we’ve decided that we’ll leave the blinkers on him for Saturday.

Set Piece goes in the Steventon Stakes at Newbury.

The step up to 10 furlongs should be a positive.

A series of people have ridden him, different people, as we tried to get fresh eyes on him, and they all said that they would love to ride him over 10 furlongs. He settles, he travels, and he has a turn of foot. His pedigree suggests that he will get further than a mile too. His dam is a Kingmambo mare, she’s out of High Walden, who was third in the Musidora, and she is a three-parts sister to Reams of Verse. It’s a proper stout Juddmonte pedigree.

I’m a bit nervous about the ground that he might encounter. There’s plenty of rain about and he is a horse who really is at his best on fast ground, so hopefully Newbury won’t get too much rain. It is a race that can be run on soft ground. What About Carlo won it two years ago on soft ground, and Poet won it on heavy ground in 2012. Fox Chairman is a worthy favourite, but if we get good ground or better, I’m happy to give it a go.

Ironclad is different, in that he would love to get some easier ground. So I’m hoping that the rain misses Newbury and makes its way down to Newmarket! Michael Prosser, who does an excellent job at Newmarket, has been predicting rain all week, so hopefully it materialises.

Ironclad has a chance in the 10-furlong three-year-olds handicap at Newmarket. He is a young horse, he is still learning his trade, and he is another horse that we have been patient with.

Hugo is hoping the rain will come for Ironclad at Newmarket on Sunday.

He came forward from his run at Doncaster earlier in the year, where it was rough and it just didn’t suit him. He had a skin infection after that, so we had to be easy on him, and he was only just ready to start back at Chelmsford in June, where he ran well in going down by just three parts of a length to Durrell.

We took him to Beverley after that, where he won ugly. I don’t think that it was the worst race in the world, and he had to dig deep to win it off what was a slow pace. And I think that that run did him a lot of good. Beverley is a tricky track and I think that he learned plenty from that experience.

Looking through Saturday’s race, there are plenty of soft ground horses in the race, and he has to meet his Chelmsford conqueror Durrell. He meets him on 3lb better terms though, and he was in need of that run. Durrell may have improved as well since Chelmsford, but I would like to think that we have too.

We have two runners on Sunday at Redcar. Arthur’s Court goes in the seven-furlong novice stakes. I spotted this race after his last run, and he goes there in good form. He came out of Newmarket well, and I hope that he has progressed.

Mark Johnston’s horse Thunderous is the one to beat. He won well on his racecourse debut at Doncaster a few weeks ago, but the Charlie Appleby horse who was all the rage before that race has been beaten again since, so maybe it wasn’t as strong a race as it looked. Thunderous was impressive, but we may not be that far behind him.

Mina Vagante goes in the first division of the nine-furlong handicap. I hope that she can do well here, I don’t think that it’s a massively strong race. There are older horses in there who have lost their form, and just one other three-year-old, who has been beaten five times.

We are running in our first handicap. I did think that a mark of 67 was the upper limit of what she has achieved, but I like to think that it is a mark off which she can be competitive.

It was nice that Hariboux won at Wolverhampton on Wednesday evening. I don’t think that it was a great race, but you can only beat what you’re asked to beat. He travelled well, he picked up well, and he won well. He seems to have taken the race well too, I thought he might be in need of it a bit and he had a good blow afterwards.

Coase finished second in a novice auction stakes at Chester last Friday. I don’t think it’s that he didn’t stay six furlongs, he bolted up over six furlongs at Carlisle. I just think that we were pressed early on for the lead, and that we were just softened up for National League. He burned them off and won his race, but he was just picked off in the finish.

The handicapper has taken absolutely no chances with him in giving him a mark of 86, but I think that 86 should be able to flatten most of these auction races, so even with his penalty, he should be interesting in those races. He is at his best with some cut in the ground though.

Heavenly Holly ran well in the Brownstown Stakes at Fairyhouse on Sunday. I would have preferred to have been placed obviously, she just didn’t quite get home over seven furlongs. The plan is to run her in the Listed Yeomanstown Stud Irish EBF Stakes at Naas next Wednesday evening over six furlongs. I think that the six furlongs at Naas should suit her well, so we’ll be hopeful of a good run.