Hugo Palmer is excited by the prospect of Ebro River stepping up to Group Two level as he contests the Coventry Stakes on the opening day of Royal Ascot.
The Galileo Gold colt has two victories to his name already, the most recent being a Listed success in Sandown’s National Stakes.
Despite crossing the line three and a quarter lengths ahead of his nearest rival, the two-year-old did not give himself the easiest passage through the race when hanging markedly left in the final furlong.
“I would hope (he’s settled),” his trainer said.
“He seems to be growing up all the time.
“We’re very excited to run him.
“He’s a nice horse so we’re keeping our fingers crossed, we’re really looking forward to it.”
Ebro River is towards the head of the betting for the six-furlong contest, with Wesley Ward’s American raider Kaufymaker the ante-post favourite.
The filly has raced just once so far, posting a winning performance on her racecourse debut in a four-and-a-half-furlong Keeneland maiden.
That outing was on dirt, but Ward has since worked the chestnut on turf and feels she will thrive on Ascot’s track.
“She won on the dirt at Keeneland and then when we worked her on the grass, she took to it like a duck to water,” he said.
“Of all the workers I have had on the grass coming into the meeting, she has risen to the top, that is why I am giving her the biggest assignment.
“The Coventry Stakes is a race I have been dying to have a really big chance in and I think she is going to give me it.
“She is the best I have and that is why I am putting her in here.”
The daughter of Jimmy Creed is the only filly to line up for the race, but her trainer is confident that she is both strong enough and mature enough to hold her own.
“She has a big, long stride and I think it is a bit of an advantage at this time of the year to have a filly against the colts,” he said.
“If you look at all the times of the races over the years, especially in the States, the fillies are always faster.
“The same applies to the breeze-ups for the most part. It is like boys and girls in school – for whatever reason girls mature that little bit faster.”
Richard Hannon is represented by Gisburn, who triumphed by six and half lengths when last seen in a maiden race at Newbury.
The Coventry has been on Hannon’s radar since and the trainer is hoping his colt will prove his class when introduced to Group company.
“Gisburn is going to go to the Coventry and that has been the plan since he went past the line at Newbury,” he told Unibet.
“It is a race where you find out exactly where you are. You hope that you have got a good horse but this will tell us.
“I hope we do, he certainly looked like one, but the Coventry will tell us.”
Elsewhere on the opening day of the Royal Meeting, stayers will come to the fore in the two-mile-four-furlong Ascot Stakes.
Willie Mullins has three horses entered, headed by M C Muldoon, who is set to be partnered by Ryan Moore.
Last year’s champion Coeur De Lion will return to defend his crown for Alan King, with Grand National heroine Rachael Blackmore teaming up with Emmet Mullins’ Cape Gentleman.
Joseph O’Brien’s Patrick Sarsfield heads the market for the Listed Wolferton Stakes after being beaten by just a head in the Curragh’s Orby Stakes earlier in the month.
Marco Botti’s Felix will also line up having returned from a third-placed run in the Group One Dubai Turf at Meydan in March.
Jim Goldie’s Euchen Glen heads to the race in good form after taking the Group Three Brigadier Gerard Stakes at Sandown on his last outing.