Hugo Palmer - "The more it dries, the better it will suit Gifted Master"

9 min

Matchbook Ambassador Hugo Palmer gives the lowdown on his runners for the weekend.

Ironclad got the job done well at Beverley on Tuesday evening. The fact that Sir Michael Stoute took us on with Madeeh, and the fact that they didn’t go a great gallop early on, made it a good test for him, but he did it well.

He’s still a big raw baby, and he wasn’t suited by the slow pace, but he couldn’t have done it any better than he did off that pace. I think we can mark it up a bit. I’m delighted that he has lost his maiden tag now, and he is only going to improve from this.

Ease in the ground is important to him. We were a long way behind Bangkok and Telecaster at Doncaster in March on fast ground, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we ended up rated not too far below those two horses. He didn’t run at two. He is still learning.

It is a pity that he wasn’t a bit more mature going into this week because he would have been ideal for Royal Ascot on the ground that we have had there this week. We mightn’t get another soft ground Royal Ascot until he is seven or eight, it doesn’t happen that often, but I have no doubt that, in the right conditions, he is a top hat horse.

Tuesday was actually a frustrating day before that. We had a couple of near misses. Hot Touch went close in a fillies’ novice stakes at Thirsk, Siglo Six did everything right and just found one too good, and Gold Fleece ran a good race in the fillies’ handicap at Beverley. Like the other two, she just found one too good.

There are races to be won with her. That’s two jockeys in a row now who have said that she would be better going up in trip, so I think you’ll see her over a mile and three quarters next time.

At least the day ended well with Ironclad.

We have a busy day on Saturday. We have runners at three different meetings. I was conflicted in my hopes for what the weather would do because I was dancing in the rain for Collide in the Duke of Edinburgh Stakes on Friday, but I wanted it to dry out for Gifted Master in the Wokingham on Saturday.

On the positive side, there is not much rain forecast now for Ascot, and the straight track there can dry out quite quickly.

The more it dries, the better it will suit Gifted Master.

He’s in tremendous form. All the signs are that he is on very good terms with himself. It’s an enormous task, to win a Wokingham off a mark of 107. But he has won a Stewards’ Cup off a mark of 111, so you never know.

He is a difficult horse to train, but he always has been that, and he has won more that three quarters of a million pounds in prize money, so he is well worth all the effort.

He’s my favourite horse.

He has done more for me than I have done for him, that’s for sure, and, if he could win a Wokingham, to add to all that he has achieved, that would be incredible.

We have three runners too at Newmarket on Saturday.

Arthur’s Court goes in the seven-furlong novices’ stakes. We had him entered in the Chesham Stakes, but we thought that it might be a bridge too far, so we are happy to allow him take his chance at Newmarket instead. It’s a typically good looking Newmarket maiden, but he is a horse that I like, and the step up from six furlongs from his racecourse debut at Yarmouth should suit him.

Zofelle runs in the one-mile fillies’ handicap. I think that she will be helped by wearing a tongue-tie for the first time. She has been working well in a tongue-tie at home.

Breaking Records is coming back from a short break in the six-furlong handicap. He might just need it a bit, I think that the run will bring him forward, but I still think that he will run well.

We have two runners then at Haydock on Saturday evening, Paths Of Glory in the mile and a half handicap and Labrega in the mile handicap.

I was very pleased with Paths Of Glory’s run at Windsor last week. It was late in the day for him to be making his racecourse debut, in June of his four-year-old year, but he ran well and he has come out of the race in great form.

I think that he could go very close to winning on Saturday. He’s in great order, he’ll love the ground and he’ll relish the step up in trip from 10 furlongs to a mile and a half. He has bounced out of his debut, and I expect that he will come forward again.

Labrega loves cut in the ground too, and I think that she needs a bend to run around. She was disappointing at Ascot last time, but I think that the straight course was just too much for her, I think that she did too much on the straight track, racing into daylight.

She won a novice stakes at Haydock, so we thought that it made sense to go back there, and try to cut out the variables. I hope that she can run well.