Palmer eyeing Lillie Langtry mission for Golden Pass

Hugo Palmer has the Group Two Lillie Langtry Stakes pencilled in for Golden Pass after her Listed weekend success.

The daughter of Golden Horn was a winner at Newmarket on Saturday, taking the Aphrodite Fillies’ Stakes by three-quarters of a length having started as 2-1 favourite.

That performance followed a second-placed run in another Listed contest at Pontefract, where the bay finished just a head behind Sir Michael Stoute’s Katara.

Palmer reports Golden Pass to be well after her recent exertions and remains open minded regarding a possible step up to a mile and six furlongs for the Lillie Langtry Stakes at the Qatar Goodwood Festival.

“She hasn’t done a lot since Saturday but she’s had a quiet canter this morning and Phil White, who rides her every day, said she felt great,” he said.

“She was squealing with wellbeing, she’s sound and is eating, so the early signs are that she seems to have taken the race really well.

“We’re just taking it one day at a time, but if I had to be leaving her in the Lillie Langtry and if I had to make that decision by 12 o’clock today, I would be doing so.”

All of the filly’s runs have been over 12 furlongs this season, but it was the manner of her victory at Newmarket that has boosted plans for a step up in both trip and grade.

“She looks like she stays well – at Newmarket on Saturday she galloped all the way out to the road,” Palmer said.

“If she ever looked in trouble it was with about a furlong to run, but she was well on top again by the finish.

“I’m not saying she won’t run over a mile and a half again, but it looks entirely possible that a step up in trip could bring about the improvement from a Listed filly to a Group filly.

“She’s exceptionally tough and genuine, she leaves everything on the track and that’s why I think she’s taken her racing quite hard.

“But now that she is four, she seems to be so much more mature and so much more able to back up.”

Golden not for passing at Newmarket

Golden Pass gave a game front-running performance to take Listed honours in the Ric And Mary Hambro Aphrodite Fillies’ Stakes at Newmarket.

The Hugo Palmer-trained four-year-old battled on bravely for James Doyle to hold the persistent challenge of Free Wind by three-quarters of a length. Abstinence was a length away in third place.

Victory provided handsome compensation for the 2-1 favourite following a head defeat in a similar contest at Pontefract four weeks ago.

“She was beautifully ridden. She has been an immature filly who has been very delicate,” said Palmer.

“Every time we have run her she would fall in a heap and have to have 10 days in a field, that is why it has endlessly been six weeks or six months between races.

“Today was the first day where one race had made her stronger for the next. We will just have to see if today makes her stronger for the next race. 

“She goes on most ground and is unbelievably genuine, as you can see. She wasn’t doing a tap in front and was almost willing for them to take her on through the last few furlongs. 

“She just got collared late home at Pontefract and she didn’t have the chance to fight back, but she had all the time in the world today to fight back and she got back.”

Golden Pass could step up to Group Two company for the Qatar Lillie Langtry Stakes at Goodwood on July 31.

“The Lillie Langtry is two weeks away today which she is entered in. It is an obvious target and we have the next 12 days before we have to make a decision. We are going to have to see which way we go,” the Newmarket handler added.

“I’m sure she will get the extra two furlongs there and who knows, she could be a Cup horse next season. That is if she stays in training, as she is owned by an owner/breeder (Dr Ali Ridha) who is accumulating a beautiful broodmare band.”

Eve Johnson Houghton with Accidental Agent after his finest hour at Royal Ascot
Eve Johnson Houghton with Accidental Agent after his finest hour at Royal Ascot (John Walton/PA)

There was a popular winner elsewhere on the card, as Accidental Agent recorded his first victory since the 2018 Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot.

Eve Johnson Houghton’s stable stalwart finished with a flourish to land the Fine Watch Handicap.

Johnson Houghton said of the 12-1 winner: “It’s brought a tear to everybody’s eye in the whole of the yard. I’m made up for him.

“I didn’t think they were going fast enough, but Georgia (Dobie) gave him a brilliant ride. I told her to ride him with a smile on her face and enjoy riding a horse like him and it has translated into the reins.

“I thought he would be competitive, but I thought he might need another to come down a little bit more to be in the right place.

“It is just great to see him win again.”