Hugo Palmer - Heavenly Holly Can Hopefully Reward Our Patience

12 min

Hugo reflects on Mootasadir’s run in the Yorkshire Cup and looks ahead to his three runners this weekend.

Our horses had been a little quiet of late. There has been nothing wrong with them, they have been healthy and well, it’s just that they didn’t seem to be sparkling, so it was good to have a few of them run well this week. Gold Fleece and Birdcage Walk both ran well at Windsor on Monday, and Kahina won nicely at Brighton on Tuesday.

It was nice for Kahina to get her head in front. She is very well bred, she is a three-parts sister to Magic Hurricane, who is a Group 1 winner in Australia. It’s great for her owners, for a well-bred filly like her to win. She will be going to the July sales, so there should be plenty of interest in her from Down Under. Their breeding season gets underway at the end of our summer, so the timing is good. In the meantime, she might go back to Brighton. When you find a horse who likes a tricky track like that, it can often pay to go back there.

I was disappointed with Mootasadir in the Yorkshire Cup. I cannot for the life of me work out how a horse who moves so beautifully on the bridle on turf, and who is so good on all-weather, cannot be as good on turf. Ben Curtis, who rode him, said that he travelled very well for him but, when he asked him to pick up, he just couldn’t go with them.

One possibility is that he finds the uneven turf in Europe uncomfortable. It may be that he can do better on the flatter tracks that they have in America, so we’re looking at the Belmont Gold Cup on 7th June. That could be a good race for him.

He does have options on all-weather too though. He has the Northumberland Plate as an option, as I mentioned last week. It would be a big task, to win a Northumberland Plate off a handicap rating of 112, but he could be up to it. There is also the Diamond Stakes at Dundalk later in the season, which we won last year.

We have three runners on Saturday, at three different tracks. Heavenly Holly runs in the Listed EBF British Stallion Studs Cecil Frail at Haydock. She is an exciting filly I think. She’s a real testament to patience, and owners giving horses a chance to mature.

You see a trainer being patient with a horse, and that patience paying dividends, and people commending the trainer for being so patient. But trainers can only be patient when they have a very long-suffering and patient owner.

Heavenly Holly didn’t make her debut until last October, the October of her three-year-old season. She ran well that day, and she won her next two in November. Then she went for a listed race at Deauville and, although she could only finish fifth, she was only beaten a total of three parts of a length.

She won the All-Weather Fillies’ and Mares’ Championship at Lingfield on her debut this season, and I hope that she has progressed since then. She has raced almost exclusively over seven furlongs so far, she raced over seven and a half at Deauville, but I think that she should be fine dropping down to six furlongs. She has lots of pace. She might have won that Deauville race if that had been over seven instead of seven and a half.

I am conscious that this will be her first run on turf, but she has done plenty of work on turf, and she hasn’t suggested at all that she won’t go on turf. It has been down to circumstances. She made her debut in October, and now we’re only into May, so she has been racing during the winter, and most of the racing during the winter is on all-weather.

Saturday’s race is a competitive race without being the hottest listed race ever run. Signora Cabello is the highest rated filly in the race, but she was quite well beaten in the Pavilion Stakes last time, and it remains to be seen if she is the same filly as she was last year.

If she is that filly, she’ll win by five lengths. She won the Queen Mary last year and the Prix Robert Papin, and she finished second in the Prix Morny. But we don’t know that she will be as good this year as she was last year.

Island Of Life probably didn’t have the run of the race when she finished behind us at Lingfield, but we still finished in front of her, so you have to be hopeful that we can finish in front of her again.

Deira Surprise goes in a six-furlong three-year-old fillies handicap at Chester. She has been a frustrating filly. She hasn’t yet lived up to what she has been doing at home.

She ran poorly at Salisbury the last day over seven furlongs. Silvestre said afterwards that she wanted six furlongs, that over a stiff seven, she just didn’t get home. On her previous run, she behaved badly. Before that, in January, she won over a sharp seven at Wolverhampton. We know that she has ability.

She looks well, and I’d like to see her run her race. If she does, we can build it from there.

I was a little surprised that Debbonair got into the 12-furlong three-year-olds handicap at Salisbury on Saturday evening. I thought that he might get balloted out.

He won at Kempton in December off a mark of 64, and the handicapper may have had him a little high after that, and running in a grade that he wasn’t used to competing in.

Nothing went right for him at Doncaster the last day, and it was his first run after a short break, so hopefully he can do better now. I’m putting blinkers on him for the first time. He worked nicely in blinkers on the Limekilns with Gold Fleece, who as I mentioned ran well off a fractionally higher mark at Windsor on Monday evening. That gives me hope that Debbonair is in a good place with himself.

He’s back down to a mark of 66 now, he is back into the grade that he won in, and he is only 2lb higher than his winning mark. And Cieren Fallon is taking 7lb off. I hope that he can run well.

It’s a Classic weekend in Ireland, and it’s fascinating that Too Darn Hot is running in the Irish 2000 Guineas. I suppose there’s nothing like a Classic winner, and this is his last chance of winning one. We went close in the Irish Guineas with Galileo Gold in 2016. We were drawn in one on the far rail, and Frankie just couldn’t get out and get racing when he wanted to. By the time he squeezed through on the rail, Awtaad had flown. Maybe he would have beaten us anyway, but it was still frustrating to go so close.

Saturday’s race is fascinating. Phoenix Of Spain having first run of the year on fast ground might be interesting. Skardu has a tricky draw, but he ran very well at Newmarket. For racing, it would be good to see either Too Darn Hot or Magna Grecia winning it, and then Persian King coming over and taking them on in the St James’s Palace Stakes. Hopefully the weather stays fair and we have a good race.