Hugo Palmer: My thoughts on Best of Days and Baydar at Royal Ascot today
Exciting prospect Best of Days had Hugo dreaming of Derby glory this winter but a back injury meant the King Edward VII Stakes became the aim, get Hugo's thoughts on that runner and Friday's other Baydar here...
"I am genuinely excited to be running Best of Days here and indeed for what the rest of the season might hold for him."
15:05 - Best Of Days
I am genuinely excited to be running Best of Days here and indeed for what the rest of the season might hold for him. He gave us plenty to dream about over the winter after landing the Royal Lodge Stakes, and being by a King George winner out of a stakes-winning mare by a Derby winner, the thought of Epsom in June fuelled those dreams. Unfortunately, he picked up a back injury early in the year which, although not serious, prevented him from being ridden for some weeks. We were still able to exercise him though, and with the help of a leading expert in the area, managed to formulate an effective work routine using a treadmill. We took him to Breakfast With The Stars at Epsom, but I decided that the Derby would come just too soon for him, and aimed him instead at this, which has, of course, always been known as the Ascot Derby.
Since last year, he's really developed and strengthened, and I'm very happy with his condition, but obviously there is no hiding place at Royal Ascot, and I would have more confidence going into such a competitive race if he'd had a run in preparation; that hasn't been possible, but fingers crossed it won't stop him. It can be a disadvantage to be drawn too close to the rail on the round course, so I'm happy with his draw in eight. I don't want to make plans prematurely, and we'll obviously see how he comes out of this before mapping out future races for him, but he's got plenty of entries including the King George and the Arc, while he could also go down the St Leger route.
17:35 - Baydar
There are a lot of "ifs" surrounding Baydar's run in the Duke of Edinburgh. He's stepping up in trip, has a young apprentice in the saddle and is drawn on the wide outside. All of those factors could in some way be construed as a negative - he clearly won't be winning if he doesn't stay, young David Egan has a lot of pressure on his shoulders and lacks experience riding in a race like this on such a stage, and Baydar could easily be forced wide or see too much daylight. On the other hand, it's possible, and I'm very much hoping, that those factors could end up being positives.
Baydar may be unproven beyond ten furlongs, but his work this year suggests to me that he would actually relish a step up in trip, while his rider is clearly very talented, and if subtracting his claim from the official handicap mark, Baydar is effectively running off 100. He beat Scarlet Dragon off levels when rated 99 at Newbury last season, and that rival will run off 109 in the Wolferton Stakes here on Saturday. The wide draw looks an obstacle at first glance, but I note that the last two winners of this race have been drawn 21 and 19, so while it will be vitally important to break on terms and settle into a good position, the draw is clearly not the negative it's sometimes portrayed to be. He is currently looking as strong and as good as he has ever looked.