Champagne Pol Roger is a proud supporter of Hugo Palmer Racing. Here, Hugo looks back at a successful 2018 season. We very much look forward to coming along for the ride in 2019!
2018 was another tremendous year. In terms of sheer number of winners, our total of 89 made it comfortably our winning most year, which is exciting. By all other markers 2018 was our second most successful year; finishing 17th in the Trainer’s table was our second best position and only in 2016, with GALILEO GOLD’s Group One triumphs, did we surpass this year’s total prize money.
The horses ran consistently well throughout the season and once in the turf season they ticked away at more than two winners a week, which kept morale and the atmosphere in the yard good from start to finish. The Pol Roger sponsored party on 1000 Guineas day was a great event. The sun shone, the champagne flowed, and a fantastic time was had by all. Stable favourite GIFTED MASTER had his share in the fun when bravely making all in the first race of the day’s card. GIFTED MASTER went on to provide, arguably the seasons highlight, with an incredibly gutsy win in the Stewards Cup at Glorious Goodwood. To make all and win off top weight, the way he did, was a remarkable performance from this wonderful horse, who remains in training in 2019. All being well, he will start his campaign in the new Group Three at Meydan on Super Saturday (9th March).
GIFTED MASTER will be joined in Dubai by NEVER BACK DOWN, whose Listed win in the Carnarvon Stakes on Lockinge Day was very exciting. He was one of three stakes winning sprinters of the season; the third being ENCRYPTED who, having won a very valuable Handicap at York, went on to win the Golden Rose, which had been won by GIFTED MASTER previously at Lingfield. He also stays in training this year, and will be aimed at the All-Weather Championships Final on Good Friday. UNFORGETABLE FILLY was particularly unlucky through the year as, for a fast ground filly in a heat wave year, every time she was entered it seemed to rain. She did get her preferred firm ground on one occasion however, and she won the Listed Dick Hern Stakes at Haydock by a very impressive eight lengths. She has now been retired and I believe visits DUBAWI.
We had a slightly more backward group of two year olds this year, and it was not until late summer that they really began to find their stride. With HOT TEAM running out a ready winner of the Listed Grand Criterium De Bordeaux in France in October and ALMUFTI running extremely well, on ground that was too slow for him, in the Horris Hill at Newbury. There are a lot of horses who have shed their Maiden tag at two, who go into 2019 as the stables leading hopes. We hope very much that horses like SET PIECE, RED OCTOBER, ZOFELLE, ARTOIS, BLONDE WARRIOR and others will be able to make their presence felt at three. Another very exciting horse who we take forward from this year is the Group Three winning MOOTASADIR, who won the Diamond Stakes at Dundalk in Ireland, and he is likely to reappear in Dubai in the spring before hopefully having a successful campaign. The two year olds are coming in now and are cantering away; we look to have a lovely bunch and really something to look forward to in 2019.