Hugo Palmer: I do think the market might be underestimating him
Trainer and Coral ambassador Hugo Palmer discusses the chances of his Saturday runners at Newbury, Ripon and Doncaster.
Newbury maidens always take a bit of winning, but as they should – it’s a Group One track and a nice place to run good horses. Although he goes under the radar a little bit at home, I do like Gunfighter. He moves very well, and his work has been pleasing, if not spectacular. He just gives me the feeling there’s more there, and maybe he’s saving it for the track.
He’s a very good-looking horse by an exceptional stallion in Siyouni, but ours very rarely win first time, and all three of my Group One winners were beaten first time out, so it certainly won’t be a negative if he is too. Having said that, if he was to win here, it wouldn’t be a complete shock, and I think the trip will suit him for his first start.
I’d hope he’d get a mile next season, but it’s unlikely we’ll go that far with him this year, and hopefully he can run with plenty of encouragement this weekend.
He just didn’t stay at Royal Ascot, but he ran a good race for a long way there, and although the trip stretched his stamina, he wasn’t beaten all that far in the end. He’s come out of the race incredibly well and his work at home has been very good since, so I’m looking forward to running him again.
He’ll definitely relish being back over two miles, and he’s pretty versatile ground wise, so although he won at Haydock on very quick ground, he’d handle it just as well if it gets very testing here with all the rain that is forecast.
I’ve got to say, for a horse that won his penultimate start and clearly didn’t stay last time, I was surprised to see him priced up as one of the outsiders of the field. There are horses that finished very close to him at Ascot that are a fraction of his price, so I do think the market might be underestimating him a little bit.
He’s a tough and consistent horse, and if he gets into a good rhythm, then I can see him running a big race, the question would just be whether he’s well-handicapped enough to win a race of this nature.
We finally get to see our Coral Racing Club horse making his debut on the track, and I’m really looking forward to seeing him run. He’s shown a good attitude at home, and he certainly hasn’t appeared short of speed, so I’m happy to be starting him off over 5f.
They usually have the stalls against the stands rail on the straight track at Ripon, which makes his draw a bit of a disadvantage. He’s drawn in stall one, which means he’ll be out in the middle of the track, and you’d just rather them have a bit of company on either side for their first start.
He has a big and balanced stride, so I’m hoping he can handle the undulations of Ripon, but it is one of those tracks that horses either handle or they don’t, and until you try a horse there, you just don’t know.
Whatever happens on Saturday, he’ll learn plenty from the experience, and while I wouldn’t expect him to make a winning start, I’d be pleased if he can be competitive and run a race full of promise to give us something to build on.
He disappointed us the other day at Doncaster, as I thought the step up to 1m 6f would suit him, but it didn’t, and his last furlong was his weakest furlong. We’re coming back to 1m 4f, which is a trip he’s won over, and although he won on fast ground, he has a big action and he hits the ground pretty hard, so I think the slow ground at Doncaster will suit him.
He’s not a fast horse, so I think the combination of 1m 4f on slow ground might be ideal for him, and he does try very hard, so I’m very hopeful he’s better than a mark of 74, and fingers crossed he can show that on Saturday.