Gifted Master put in another powerful display to win yesterday’s Group 3 Pavilion Stakes at Ascot.
Given his customary positive ride, he made all to win by a little over two lengths. The three-year-old has now won six of his eight career starts, and Pat Smullen has been on-board for three of the last four. His most outstanding performance as a juvenile came in the £500,000 Tattersalls Millions 2yo Trophy at Newmarket over seven furlongs, when he hammered a decent field which included Ballydoyle’s Waterloo Bridge.
Hugo Palmer had suggested the seven-furlong Jersey Stakes would be the first major target after his seasonal debut win at Newmarket, but the trainer now looks to cash-in on the absence of top juvenile sprinter Shalaa by keeping to the sprints.
Betfred cut the winner to 6-1 for the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot, won last year by the season’s outstanding sprinter Muhaarar. Palmer said after yesterday’s victory: “We came here to find out whether we can head to the Commonwealth Cup and unless Pat says he is a seven-furlong horse, which I don't think he will, that's where we will go.”
Palmer took out his training licence in 2011, and has seen his yard expand rapidly since then, with his string growing from a dozen to more than 130. Quality is the key to major success and he clearly has that in abundance. After saddling his first Group winner in 2014, the team stepped up a gear with the performances of Covert Love last summer. She won the yard’s first Classic when taking the Irish Oaks at the Curragh, and was also successful in a Group 1 at Longchamp. She was probably ‘over the top’ when beaten at Ascot in the Fillies and Mares on her final start.
Gifted Master looks an outstanding prospect for the forthcoming campaign, and Palmer has another horse with the potential of making an impact in the Classics. The Al Shaqab Racing-owned Galileo Gold is expected to take his place in the English 2000 Guineas on Saturday, as he bids to build on a successful juvenile campaign.
Earlier in the month Palmer had said: “Galileo Gold will start in a Guineas and it will probably be the French. He probably needs a bit of cut in the ground, not a lot, but genuine good ground would be absolutely fine. Subject to the owner's approval he will stay in the (Newmarket) Guineas until it is clear that Air Force Blue will line up on fast ground as those are the two things that will keep him out of it.”
However, that stance has changed thanks in the main to the great British weather. Air Force Blue will definitely be in opposition and is the short-priced favourite, but Galileo Gold now looks sure to take his place at Newmarket. Palmer reported that Frankie Dettori was bursting with enthusiasm at the prospect of the horse being switched to the Newmarket Guineas.
An exciting piece of work a fortnight ago appeared to be the catalyst for the change of heart. “I wanted Frankie to sit on him, so he could get a feel for him and some real belief,” said Palmer. “I’ve kind of overdone it a bit because Frankie now has so much belief that he is really keen that we run here. The feel that he gave Frankie in his gallop during the Craven meeting, Frankie was really buzzing after it. I know Frankie’s a buzzy sort of person but he was really pumped. It’s exciting.”
The horse has been backed in to 14s and his pedigree gives hope that the guineas trip will prove ideal. By the outstanding Paco Boy out of a Galileo mare, he ought to have the necessary blend of speed and stamina for Saturday’s test.
Time will tell if he has the ability to win the guineas, but he looks sure to play a major role in yet another exciting summer for the rapidly improving team at Kremlin Cottage Stables, led by the talented young trainer Hugo Palmer.