Hugo Palmer: I do think he’s a different horse this year
Trainer and Coral ambassador Hugo Palmer discusses the chances of his Tuesday runners at Royal Ascot, Thirsk and Beverley.
I was delighted to have a few winners over the weekend, with Box to Box winning at Chester, then Power of Gold getting his head in front at Doncaster.
I’d been getting very frustrated as we kept hitting the crossbar, so I really was thrilled with those winners, and hopefully that will continue throughout this week.
Royal Ascot is undoubtedly one of the highlights of the year and, like everybody, we’d love to have a winner there.
The races are extremely competitive, as not only are you taking on the best British horses, but there’s plenty of representation from America, Australia and all over the world.
We’ll have a few runners throughout the week, so hopefully, with a bit of luck, we’ll find ourselves in the winner’s enclosure!
I’m looking forward to running Solent Gateway here because I do think he’s a different horse this year.
We ran him over a similar trip at Goodwood last year and he didn’t stay and made a rotten noise after the race, so we gave him a wind operation and brought him back for a winter campaign on the all-weather. He only won once through the winter, but he ran a number of good races and seemed right back to his best.
He seems to have translated that form back to the turf and I was really happy with the start he made over an inadequate trip at Newmarket last month.
He then went on to make all over 2m at Haydock a few weeks ago, which I was absolutely delighted with. We obviously have an extra half a mile to stay here, and while that is still a big question mark for him, I do believe he can stay if he relaxes and gets into a nice rhythm.
Solent Gateway leads them home in the Betfred TV Hell Nook Handicap
— ITV Racing (@itvracing) May 27, 2023
Zoffee and Solent Gateway have met before and it was Zoffee that finished in front on that occasion.
He certainly didn’t get out-stayed in the Chester Cup last time, he just got a little bit tired close home and will certainly have come on for the run.
He hadn’t fully come to himself, which was why we couldn’t get a prep run into him, so he just didn’t quite finish off his race. While it was frustrating to get beaten by such a narrow margin, I was thrilled with how well he did in the circumstances.
I’m delighted to say he’s been in great form at home since, and he really does look fantastic in his summer coat. He’s totally versatile with regards to the ground, so whatever happens with the weather, that shouldn’t be an inconvenience for him.
Even though he stayed further than Solent Gateway, I didn’t think he truly got home at Goodwood last year, but I do think he’s a better horse now, and this isn’t quite as far, so I’m certainly hopeful of a big run.
I think this sharp 7f at Thirsk will really suit Ertebat and he enjoys cut in the ground, so hopefully conditions will be to his liking.
I’ve been dodging firm ground with him for a few weeks now, so I’d like to think he can slot in behind a decent pace here and finish with a wet sail. That’s the plan anyway, so we’ll keep our fingers crossed that everything pans out for him.
He was a bit disappointing on his reappearance at Wolverhampton last time, but he appeared to just need the run more than I thought he would. He will strip fitter for that, but he obviously needs to translate that all-weather form onto turf.
He’s a well-bred horse who has always shown plenty of ability at home, so I’m hopeful he’ll continue to improve, and I think they are forecast a bit of rain up at Beverley, so I think a bit of cut in the ground will suit him perfectly.