“The magic is back” between Frankie Dettori and Galileo Gold after the Guineas-winning pair seemed to fall out of love at the end of last year, according to Hugo Palmer, who trains the chestnut. Palmer enthused over his colt’s prospects for this year during a media morning at his Kremlin Cottage stables, intended to publicise next month’s Lockinge Stakes at Newbury, for which Galileo Gold is the 3-1 joint-favourite and which is sponsored by his owners, Al Shaqab.
Ruefully Palmer recalled the last time his star raced, in October’s QEII, when he faded into fifth after fighting for his head, a fault he had also shown at Deauville in August. “I think it’s fair to say when Frankie got off him at Ascot, having had two less than pleasurable times with the horse, their relationship was a little bit on the rocks,” Palmer said. “And so that was really the main purpose of Thursday’s racecourse gallop, to remind Frankie what an engine this horse has and for them to get back in love with each other again.”
That gallop, before Newmarket’s Craven Stakes card last week, “couldn’t have gone better”, according to the trainer, now in his seventh season. “The look on Frankie’s face, the sort of hugging and kissing of the horse afterwards, you really felt that the magic was back between them. Which is so important. The horse seems to be in the right place but it’s so important that Frankie knows it, too, and that they believe in each other. It couldn’t have gone better.”
Galileo Gold had provided Palmer with an early career highlight by streaking clear of the 2,000 Guineas field last April and he followed up in the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot. Two late-season flops suggested his temperament might be undermining his ability but Palmer is inclined to blame himself, saying: “The fairly relentless racing programme that I’d given him ended up with him quite wound up.
“All the signs are that, having had a proper break and a year older and a year more mature, he’s totally settled down.” While the chestnut seemed inclined to play up in front of a media pack that included five TV cameras, feinting bites at his trainer’s shoulder, he is reportedly more biddable when fewer people are watching, to the point that he recently led Palmer’s yearlings up the nearby gallops on Warren Hill.
“That was wonderful to see,” the trainer said. “He had to lead his own lead horse down the other day, because the lead horse was playing up. He’s just grown up.”
Palmer could be doubly represented in the Lockinge, as he is inclined to have another tilt at a mile with Home Of The Brave, better known as a seven-furlong type and due to make his reappearance at Leicester on Saturday. The trainer also spoke of his Classic prospects for this year, including Escobar, whose target will be determined after a piece of work this week, with the French Guineas seeming more likely than the Newmarket equivalent a week on Saturday. Best Of Days, Palmer’s Royal Lodge winner, “looks tremendous” according to the trainer and will take his chance in a Derby trial next month.
A surprisingly small field seems likely for Saturday’s Bet365 Gold Cup, Sandown’s handicap chase that brings down the curtain on the jumps season. Only 17 remain after the five-day entry stage for a race that could yet determine the identity of the champion trainer. Paul Nicholls, who trails Nicky Henderson by around £170,000, has three entries to his rival’s two. However, Neil Mulholland has the favourite in The Young Master, winner of the race last year and last seen crashing out of the Grand National at Becher’s Brook.
More immediately Coneygree has been declared to run in Punchestown Gold Cup, his first outing since being beaten by Cue Card in the Betfair Chase in November. The 2015 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner has been sidelined by pain in a knee, which first became evident a fortnight or so after the Haydock run. He will clash with this year’s Cheltenham hero, Sizing John, in Wednesday’s race.
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1.50 Ceegem 2.25 Pekanheim 2.55 Victoria Says 3.25 Heist 4.00 Hattons Hill 4.30 Young Hurricane 5.05 Schiaparannie
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