Hugo Palmer: The verdict on my Saturday runners at Ascot and Catterick
A relatively quiet day in store for Hugo Palmer who saddles one runner at Catterick and one in the closing valuable handicap at Ascot on British Champions Day...
"He’s in very good form, and I’m happy with him, but this is a huge prize for a race of its type, with over £155,000 to the winner, so it’s as competitive as you would expect, and he will need to be better than ever to win."
Hugo Palmer on Humbert
Wide draw a worry but soft ground a welcome return
16:05 Catterick - Delsheer
Delsheer is one of those horses who has suffered because of the remarkable summer, with horses who need easy ground proving hard to place, and he's definitely one of those. He showed he stayed a mile and a half when second at Wolverhampton in the summer, and he will benefit from the soft ground, so I'm hopeful he can run well.
He's a similar horse in many ways to Morning Skye, both in terms of his rating and his profile, so it's encouraging that Morning Skye could win an almost identical race to this at Catterick earlier in the month. That was an encouraging sign, although this is obviously a different challenge for Delsheer.
It seems a regular occurrence on a turning track that we have to cope with wide draws, and he's drawn in 14 of 15 here, but Tony Hamilton knows the track well and I'll trust him to use that knowledge to advantage on the day.
Delsheer is in the sales in a couple of weeks, so it would be good to get a win with him here. He has the pedigree and the looks, and if he could gain a victory over this trip, then I think he could be quite a valuable commodity in the current market.
In very good form but he needs to be better than ever
16:30 Ascot - Humbert
Humbert is another horse who needs ease in the ground on turf, and he ran really well to be second in both the Spring Mile at Doncaster and the Spring Cup at Newbury in the spring. The plan with him would ideally have been to run him in the Cambridgeshire as he's a forward-going horse who likes to roll along, and the track at Newmarket tends to suit that style of racing, but the ground ended up too fast, and he comes here instead.
In previous years the Balmoral has had qualification criteria, and I think he would have qualified through finishing second at Newbury, but that's a moot point now, with normal handicapping criteria applying, and I'm delighted that he's got in at the lower end of the weights. I'm also perfectly happy with his draw in 13 which is just the high side of middle, bearing in mind the reserves have also been allotted stalls positions.
He's in very good form, and I'm happy with him, but this is a huge prize for a race of its type, with over £155,000 to the winner, so it's as competitive as you would expect, and he will need to be better than ever to win.
Ascot's an unusual track in that you can walk the straight when the going is soft and it walks as if it is just on the slow side of good, but it will produce soft-ground results, with slower times and horses finishing strung out as you would expect, and the going description is always an accurate guide. It should also be remembered that Ascot doesn't drain as well as Newmarket, which has taken recent rain very well, and that's why much of the autumn programme has traditionally taken place at Newmarket.
Ascot is surrounded by forest, and tends to remain soft for longer, and it's often forgotten that until 1946, the course was only utilised for the Royal Meeting. The relaying of the straight track has been a great help, with the sand-based surface better at taking what the elements throw at it, but it's a real triumph for the course executive that a meeting like this is possible at all in October.