Hugo Palmer is no longer trying to “force a square peg into a round hole” with Dubawi Legend following his pleasing performance to finish third when dropped back in trip in the Hackwood Stakes at Newbury.
The son of Dubawi, who was second in the Dewhurst Stakes as a two-year-old, was pointed towards the 2000 Guineas in the early part of the season and there was plenty of optimism that the keen-going colt could provide Palmer with his second success in the one-mile Group One.
However, Dubawi Legend raced freely and the three-year-old was ultimately disappointing in both the first Classic of the summer, as well as his subsequent appearance in the Jersey Stakes at Royal Ascot, two outings which left the Manor House Stables handler scratching his head.
Now Palmer seems to have found the key to the colt having tried Dubawi Legend over six furlongs for the first time in his career at Newbury.
Tried in first-time cheekpieces, Dubawi Legend was always to the fore and travelled strongly in the hands of David Egan before keeping on gamely to be rewarded with a spot on the podium – a finishing position that suggests his future lies over sprinting distances.
“I was delighted to not see him disappear out of the back of the TV screen,” quipped Palmer.
“I was very pleased. I got the feeling from David Egan afterwards that he felt when going well he could have perhaps stretched them a bit sooner, but he ran to the line very well and but for a bob of heads could have been second.
“Clearly sprinting is his metier and I’ve obviously been trying to force a square peg into a round hole for the last year and a bit. But I wanted him to be a Guineas horse, his owner wanted him to be a Guineas horse and at home working over seven furlongs and a mile, he switches off, travels beautifully and finishes. But a piece of work is very different to a race.
“The research we did and performance data very much suggested that his stride cadence during a race was very much that of a sprinter, so he was striding in these races as a sprinter and he definitely looked like a sprinter at Newbury.”
Palmer confirmed Dubawi Legend would be handed a sprinting programme moving forward, but with the stable blessed with plenty of talent over the shorter distances, deciding the three-year-old’s future targets could provide the trainer with further headaches.
A trip to France in early August is the current front-runner, with the Classic-winning handler desperate to find the right perfect opening to return Dubawi Legend to the winner’s enclosure for the first time since scoring at Doncaster on debut.
“He’s got an entry at the Curragh (Rathasker Stud Phoenix Sprint Stakes on August 6), that’s a possibility but we also have others who could run in that. He’s also in the Goldene Peitsche (August 28) at Baden Baden.
“There are not too many options, but I’d just like to find something as straight forward as a Listed race for him quite soon and what he could very well do is go to Deauville on August 7 for the Prix Moonlight Cloud. I said to the owner, we would love to get the horse back in the winner’s enclosure and I’m not sure he’d like Chester – that’s the only option in this country.
“If he could go to Deauville and win, he could then have a crack at the Haydock Sprint Cup (September 03) if the ground was right.
“But he is a Dubawi and they have a habit of improving with age and it’s encouraging that now we’ve got him back on an even keel. He’s run a good race in what I thought was a fairly up to standard edition of the Hackwood. Sometimes horses need to learn to sprint, so I hope he will get better at sprinting and learn his craft a bit.”