Hugo Palmer: I think he goes here with a very good chance
Trainer and Coral ambassador Hugo Palmer discusses the chances of his Saturday runners at Ascot and Chester, plus his view on the July Cup.
Under The Sun is a horse who’s always pleased me at home, and even though he arrived here a bit gangly, all he’s done is strengthen up over the last six months. We felt it would take a good one to beat him first time out at Haydock, and sadly we did indeed bump into a good one in the shape of Charlie Appleby’s Ancient Wisdom.
He was in a different parish that day, and he’s since gone on to win again at Newmarket, so I don’t think there’s any doubt that we were beaten by a very good horse on the day.
Because he’s a son of Golden Horn out of a Montjeu mare, he’s bred to stay very well, and all being well, I think he’ll make up into a cracking middle-distance horse for next season.
We haven’t rushed him back to the track after Haydock as we just wanted to give him more time to strengthen up, and I think he goes here with a very good chance. I’ll be nervous if I wake up in the morning and one of the newcomers has been backed into 7/4 favourite, but I think all the horses that have run before will have to take a decent step forward to match the form that he showed on his debut.
As always with Brad The Brief, we are firmly on weather watch over the next 24 hours. We left him in the July Cup on Monday because when I spoke to Newmarket, they were expecting 20mm of rain this week, but at the time of writing I think they’ve had about 1.5mm.
We had the back-up option of Chester in mind, and the ground is already the slow side of good, and as I sit here in Cheshire now it’s very drizzly, so hopefully conditions will be ideal for him tomorrow.
He’s got a lovely draw in stall 3, and I’m really relieved about that as I didn’t want him stuck out wide. For a horse who’s always been trained locally, he’s only run at Chester once and he didn’t run very well, but I suspect that was nothing to do with Chester. You need to be able to travel well at Chester, so being a Group 2 winner over 6f, you’d hope he can get into a nice rhythm over 7f round there.
He’s never won a race over 7f, but he’s always shaped like he’d get it, and if he’s going to stay the trip anywhere, it’s going to be at Chester. I’ll be disappointed if he doesn’t look like the winner with a furlong to run, and then we go into unchartered territory, but it would be wonderful to think he could win over 7f as it will open up so many more options for him.
As you’d expect for one of the biggest sprint races of the year, it’s very competitive, and it looks a very interesting contest. It is quite extraordinary that at 9.45am yesterday morning, there wasn’t a jockey up on the favourite for the July Cup, but that’s just a result of the massive amount of racing stuck on a Saturday. The pressure that trainers are under trying to get the right people on their horses with all these meetings is quite incredible.
Shaquille has been an absolute revelation this season, and it always used to be very difficult for three-year-olds to win the July Cup, but we’ve actually seen quite a few in recent years. The three-year-old sprint programme does now lend itself to being able to produce these horses and allow them to progress through the grades.
It was remarkable the way he won the Commonwealth Cup as it showed he’s not just a one-trick pony who needs to be handed a soft lead. To come from behind and beat them all the way he did was a very impressive performance, and while you’d have to respect Little Big Bear and Azure Blue, I do think Shaquille sets the standard on that win last time.