It's a busy time of the season for Hugo Palmer with the first Classic of the season just days away, in which the Betfair Ambassador looks set to run Galileo Gold. Here Hugo gives his thoughts on all his latest entries...
"The horse is in exceptionally good form and, while he obviously needs to improve to win, I don't subscribe to the theory that Air Force Blue is unbeatable. And he has been beaten."
Hugo Palmer on Galileo Gold
With the ground looking like it may be good, or maybe on the easy side, at Newmarket this weekend, we have decided to run Galileo Gold in the 2,000 Guineas on Saturday.
But if the word firm appears in the going description, then we will wait and go to France with him.
Basically, the horse is ready to run. He is strong, fit, healthy and sound, and all that could change in the blink of eye. He could stand on a stone, or catch a cold, so it makes sense for us to strike now.
Touch wood, the horse hasn't caused us a concern all winter, and the stars are aligning for him to take his chance.
The horse is in exceptionally good form and, while he obviously needs to improve to win, I don't subscribe to the theory that Air Force Blue is unbeatable. And he has been beaten.
Yes, he is rated 124 after winning the Dewhurst, but you can make an argument that the form of that race has been over-rated somewhat.
The runner-up went into the race only having won a maiden, the third Sanus Per Aquam is no world-beater, the fourth Tashweeq was well-beaten in France next time, and Adventurous and Twin Sails followed them home.
Of course, the favourite won the race well and could be a class apart, but it may not have been as strong a Dewhurst as many are believing. And for every Frankel, there is a One Cool Cat. I went through the results of the Guineas the other night, and 14 out of the last 20 favourites have been beaten.
My horse may be 25-1 but if I had any doubts as to his ability to run well, then we would be ducking the race and going to France. We aren't.
My Upcoming Entries
Zumran is entered at Pontefract on Wednesday and she wouldn't want too much rain. Things didn't go ideally for her on her debut, when she missed the break and didn't like the ground. But she wasn't beaten far and she appears to have come on a ton for the race and I'm looking forward to her confirming that promise on better ground. She is also in at Salisbury on Sunday.
Gifted Master's programme has been something of a moveable feast, but he has very few options over a mile, and I am keen to have a go at the 3yo sprinting division with him now, with Shalaa out for the first half of the season.
So we go to Ascot on Wednesday for a Group 3 over 6f. He has to carry a 3lb penalty in what looks a very competitive race, but he seems to have taken his comeback win very well and he is bouncing at home.
We have Corked in at Wolverhampton. She will improve for the run but she is ready to do herself justice, and is a lot stronger than she was when making her debut at Kempton in November. She has been pleasing in her work and hopefully she will go well, especially as I own a leg of her myself.
We will monitor We Are Ninety in the next 48 hours but we have declared her at Chelmsford again on Thursday under a 6lb penalty after her impressive win at the track on Monday. She won easily with her ears pricked, so hopefully she will be okay to race again this week. She would have an obvious chance.
I have entered three at Lingfield on Friday, with Gimlet in the 1m4f handicap. He had three runs last season, but I wasn't sure that he was putting it all in, so we have gelded him. I think he is a galloper and a stayer, and he may not be badly handicapped off 65, but Kelvin Hall could be hard to beat in this if she runs.
I have Banish and Gold Trade entered in the 7f maiden, but the former looks the likelier runner at this stage.
It took a while for the penny to drop with him but it appeared to drop to the bottom of the well when he stayed on promisingly to finish second over this course and distance earlier in the month. His work since has been really good and I am very positive about him.
On Saturday, Strong Steps is likely to open up proceedings for us in the 1m1f handicap. He leads Galileo Gold in all his work, so as he runs in the Guineas it seems appropriate that he takes his chance, too.
I said last week that he was about a month off a run, with Newbury in May pencilled in, but that came out wrong. What I meant was that he was due to race in a month, in a handicap which his owners sponsor, and I am sure that he is straight enough here, as you would expect of a lead horse who has obviously done plenty of work.
He is another of mine that we have gelded since last season, and I am sure that he has improved, and this 1m1f trip could be perfect for him. He is isn't badly handicapped off 88 either.
Mengli Khan is entered in the listed race on Saturday and the handicap on Sunday, and I will monitor the entries for both races this week, and I will be inclined to pick the lowest hanging fruit, and that may be the handicap off a mark of 91.
Ultimately, things haven't gone to plan on his last two starts, finishing last on each occasion, and I am keen to get him back on track in a race he can win. I haven't lost faith in the horse.
Zodiakos is a lovely big horse who has been working nicely, really coming forward in the past 10 days or so.
But he wouldn't want too much rain, as he likes top of the ground. I have had one eye on the Silver Bowl at Haydock for him.
Twitch is a gorgeous filly and I have had the listed race at Goodwood on Saturday in mind for her for a long time. So this has been her target for a while.
I am excited to getting her back out, and she is a balanced filly, so the track shouldn't be a problem.
We have Afandem in the 5f novice at Doncaster, and he is a nice colt who has been doing all his work with Hyperfocus and Copper Knight. He goes well. He is a strong colt, and hopefully he will run well.
Copper Knight is in at Newmarket on Sunday after just being touched off by a well-touted newcomer at Windsor on Monday night, and we will see how he is this week before making a decision with him.
Gulliver is entered in the 2yo 5f maiden. He is a nice horse but a bit temperamental like his dad and granddad, though talented.
This maiden is invariably very competitive - Aktabantay was beaten a short-head in the race two years ago - and he will improve with time and experience. But he has ability and is a half-brother to Lightning Thunder, second in the English and Irish 1,000 Guineas.
Peru is entered in the Pretty Polly Stales. She is only rated 81 but is a lovely horse and I have been very pleased with her work.
The trip is an unknown but she is a Motivator and she works as if she will stay 1m2f. I imagine that there will be much higher-rated fillies than her in here but she would be towards the top of my group of 3yo fillies on her homework and I have given her a French Oaks entry.
Lockinge next for Home Of The Brave
Looking back to last week, it now has to be the Group 1 Lockinge next month at Newbury for Home Of The Brave following his Leicester win on Saturday. Seven furlongs is a difficult distance to campaign a horse over, so we have to find out if he truly stays a mile.
When he has won over 7f, he has always looked like a mile is within his compass and the only time that he has run over the trip in the Guineas he ran a good race and wasn't beaten far, and he also made the running into a headwind that day, too.
The thing that I liked most about Leicester was how much better he settled. He deserves to take his chance in Group 1 company now.
Hyperfocus was another impressive winner on the Leicester card for us.
We had always liked what we had seen of him at home, so I wouldn't say that he surprised us, even if he did win by five lengths.
They were a nice-looking bunch in the paddock at Leicester, too, and some of the others were well-backed, so hopefully the form is decent.
I think we will stick to 5f with him for now, and we may go to Lingfield on May 7 and then perhaps the Windsor Castle or Norfolk at Royal Ascot all being well.
You can read betting.betfair's regular tipster Tony Calvin's 2,000 Guineas Ante Post Betting Tips behind the link.