Hugo Palmer will seek softer ground for Ebro River after his fifth place in the Abernant Stakes on seasonal debut.
The colt was a three-times winner as a juvenile last season, landing a novice before taking the Listed National Stakes at Sandown and then the Group One Phoenix Stakes at the Curragh.
Amongst those victories were a series of outings in Group company that included a third-placed run in the Vincent O’Brien National Stakes, fourth-placed performances in both the July Stakes and the Richmond Stakes and a fifth in the Coventry Stakes.
Palmer felt Ebro River was unsuited by the good ground on his Newmarket return earlier this month and the three-year-old will now seek a sprint target on a surface with slightly more cut – with York, Haydock and Ascot all under consideration.
“Ebro River was a busy two-year-old last year, he had nine starts and ran very well in a series of Group Twos before winning the Group One Phoenix in Ireland,” Palmer said.
“He’s a son of Galileo Gold, who won the 2000 Guineas for us. Terrifyingly, that was six years ago now. He’s from his first crop. Against everyone’s expectations Galileo Gold made a really good start to his stud career and he has been his leading light.
“He’s had one start this year and he was a tiny bit disappointing, but the ground was very quick at the Craven meeting. I thought we might get away with it first time out but if you’re going to try to get away with ground you don’t like, Newmarket is not the place to try.
“It was just too quick for him. I didn’t declare him for the Pavilion at Ascot on Wednesday, he definitely needs cut in the ground. He could go to York, he could go to Haydock, he could wait for Ascot. He could go almost anywhere.
“This being England and this being Europe, we will get soft ground sprints this year.”
Palmer is hopeful he has an Oaks prospect in Arion, a three-year-old Dubawi filly who finished second on her racecourse debut at Newmarket last season before winning a Chelmsford novice.
The bay is due to line up for the Listed Pretty Polly Stakes at Newmarket on Saturday and Palmer is keen to see if she can live up to the expectations that come with her impeccable pedigree.
“She’s probably one of the best bred horses in Europe, she’s by Dubawi and out of a winning full-sister to Australia, which makes her a granddaughter to Ouija Board,” he said.
“She raced twice last year, she was second on debut over seven furlongs at Newmarket and then won a Chelmsford maiden.
“She’s obviously bred to stay a mile and a half and we hope she will. She’s entered for the Pretty Polly at Newmarket on Saturday, a race that Ouija Board, her grandmother, won.
“We dream that she might make up into an Oaks filly. If she was the first foal of the mare I would be even more excited by her than I am, but she’s the third Dubawi out of this mare that I’ve had to train and she’s the only one that we’ve managed to win a race with.
“She is much the best that her dam has produced, but there is a big gap between being much the best and being the Oaks winner.”
Palmer inherited Brad The Brief when he took over the reins at Manor House Stables, a gelding owned by the yard’s previous co-owner Andrew Black.
The five-year-old was a prior Group Three winner when trained by Tom Dascombe and the weather will dictate when he first runs for his new handler.
“Brad The Brief is owned by Chasemore Farm, by Andrew Black. Andrew was, until recently, partners in the yard with Michael (Owen),” Palmer explained.
“He’s now just an owner here but an important owner. It’s great to have a lovely horse like this, he’s rated 108, he’s a Group Three winner and he just must have soft ground.
“He’s had endless entries but what rain has been forecast hasn’t come, he’s in really good order and it’s particularly frustrating.”