A busy Thursday at Royal Ascot for Hugo Palmer with five runners in action. The Betfair Ambassador takes a detailed look at their chances here...
"He is in sparkling form at home, has a real will to win and quite a smart turn of foot to go with it. He's no 33/1 shot in my mind, anyway."
Hugo on Silver Quartz
It's a busy day for us on Thursday and a shame to have to run horses against each other in a couple of races, although I guess if you run two in the same race, you have twice the chance of winning.
James McDonald rides three of our runners, and it's great that he's been able to slot straight back in after serving a lengthy suspension. When Barry Hills brought him over here first, he described him as the 'best he'd seen since Steve Cauthen', and you have to respect Barry's opinion on such matters.
James rode a fair bit for me when he was last based here, as he shares an agent with James Doyle, and won on the likes of Escobar and Crimean Tatar, so it's good to be able to utilise his services again.
Royal Ascot 15:05 - Fajjaj & Silver Quartz can run big races
Both of mine in the Hampton Court seem to be well drawn, although I'm a little wary of stall three for Silver Quartz, as if you're drawn very low on the round track at Ascot, you can get shuffled back.
So I hope he breaks alertly and can hold a good position; I'd hate to see him 17th, buried on the rail and ten lengths off them, but he's never been slowly away in his life, and James McDonald will be wise to the challenge. He has been running at a mile, and does need to prove his stamina for this trip, but he is bred to stay, and I think he's now ready for a step up.
He really didn't like the ground when behind Without Parole in the Heron Stakes at Sandown, and struggled to pick up on it, but it was encouraging that his best work came in the last furlong when meeting rising ground. Everything he did there and at home since suggests he's ready for a crack at ten furlongs, but he not only needs to prove his stamina, but must improve for the trip, as he won't win the Hampton Court running to 98.
I think there is every chance he will do that, and he is in sparkling form at home, has a real will to win and quite a smart turn of foot to go with it. He's no 33/1 shot in my mind, anyway.
Fajjaj is higher rated having achieved more, finishing fourth in a Group 3 as a juvenile, and was runner-up in the German 2000 Guineas on his most recent outing. Frankie Dettori was adamant that he wanted ten furlongs when he got off him in Cologne, where he stayed on really strongly without threatening the winner.
He's also been working well, and he strikes me as being a bit more dour than Silver Quartz, lacking that one's turn of foot, but looking the sort to grind things out. They are different types in that regard, but they both deserve to be there, and I hope both can run big races.
Royal Ascot 17:00 - Curiosity & Corrosive are both proven on track and ground
Both of ours are drawn high, and while it's hard to tell if that will be an advantage or not, it's encouraging that most of the other fancied runners are also on the stands side, so we shouldn't be drawn away from the action.
That said, I'm not sure I would have picked stall 33 for Curiosity as he would benefit from a bit of cover, and being drawn right on the wing is a slight negative in that regard. Both horses are very straightforward, with Curiosity having the more explosive burst of speed, but Corrosive has that ability to keep sticking his neck out and grinding, as he showed when winning here last time in a race I always consider to be a Britannia Trial.
Both are proven at the track and on the ground, and I'd hope they could both run big races, but this is the Britannia, and along with the Royal Hunt Cup, it's just about the toughest race to win. If anything, this race is even harder as there are bound to be a few group horses lurking among the unexposed three-year-olds, whereas merit is a bit better established in the Hunt Cup.
The going was pretty quick to start the meeting, and they put a sprinkling of water on the track after racing on Tuesday, which won't have made much difference. I hope they don't water again on Wednesday, because the faster the better for mine, and that is true of pretty much every horse I have entered for the meeting.
Royal Ascot 17:35 - Dukhan will improve for step up in trip
Like Curiosity in the Britannia, he's drawn widest of all in this big field, and if everyone got to pick where they wanted to be drawn, I don't think stall 21 would be a popular choice. In saying that, two of the last three winners of this contest have come from the highest stall, so perhaps it isn't that bad.
After Michael Hills rode work on him the other day, I asked if he thought the horse would stay a mile-and-a-half, and he replied that he wouldn't just stay, but that he needed it, and was just warming up having worked a mile, so I'd expect him to improve for stepping up in trip.
He's in great form, and is also more settled at home having been gelded since his last run at Newbury, which came at the end of a busy spell when he'd also run at the Craven and Guineas meetings. He was a bit disappointing last time, but things didn't go his way, having to be bustled up after a slow start and then running keen as a result. He wore cheekpieces at Newbury, but with him being gelded and stepping up in trip, I've decided to take the headgear off.