Hugo Palmer: I didn’t anticipate Solent Gateway being top weight
Top trainer and Coral ambassador Hugo Palmer discusses his runners at York and Leicester on Wednesday plus his thoughts on the Juddmonte International.
It’s all a bit surprising that a £100,000 handicap hasn’t filled, and that Solent Gateway has ended up top weight which I didn’t anticipate happening. I suppose there is a bit of a shortage of these staying horses with many of them being sold to Australia, but it does mean we have to carry our fair share of weight.
We’ve got lucky with the draw for once in stall one, so that’s certainly a positive, and Hollie Doyle got on well with him when winning at Haydock in May (pictured below), so it’s great to have her back on board. He does seem to save his best for when he has a female rider on board as he’s won for Hayley Turner, Hollie Doyle and Jane Elliot whereas I think Ross Coakley is the only male jockey to have won on him.
He seems in very good form at home, and I think the key to this horse is getting into a good rhythm, so hopefully they go at a nice even tempo for him. He can make the running, but he doesn’t have to, so hopefully the race will develop perfectly, and Hollie can deliver him at the right time. I’m hopeful he can run well, but I do think carrying top weight in a handicap as competitive as this will require a career best.
She was a bit disappointing at Newmarket on soft ground last time, and I just think she found it hard work after being so keen early on in the race. Jamie Spencer is a genius horseman, and horses that are keen for lots of jockeys often aren’t keen for him as he rides with a long rein and almost dares the horse to be keen and if you don’t pull for their head, a lot of the time they will just relax a bit more.
On the flip side, if he dares them and they take him up on the dare, he’s suddenly riding a very keen horse with a long rein, and I think that’s what happened with Tierney – she just did too much early on in the race.
She seems in good order, but she’s not an overly big horse, so I thought claiming 3lb off her back with Connor Planas was a good idea, and Connor really is having a brilliant year. I’m hoping being back on quick ground will suit her, and hopefully she can bounce back to her best form here.
It is once again a disappointing turn out in terms of numbers for such a prestigious race, but we’ve talked about this before with regards to the Coral-Eclipse, and I suppose there are just a shortage of these real top-class horses. There are just so many options, and if we didn’t have so many races for horses rated around 115 to run in, then they’d have to run here in the Juddmonte International, and we might have 12 runners as opposed to four, but this is the world we live in.
I can see why connections of those horses don’t want to run as why would you bring your horse to run in a race that you know on all known form you’re probably going to get beaten. I remember Aidan O’Brien running a load of pacemakers against Frankel in this back in 2012 to try and get him beaten, and I suspect if Paddington was trained by anybody else, then that’s what he’d be doing here, but nobody else seems to think that way nowadays.
Paddington has been the outstanding three-year-old this year, and having stayed the Eclipse trip very well, I’d expect him to take all the beating here. Mostahdaf and Nashwa are very good horses on their day, but I think we’d all be surprised if either of them was able to beat Aidan’s horse, and you’d have to say The Foxes has plenty to find on the figures, so everything seems to be pointing towards Paddington.