Glorious Goodwood: Galileo Gold on track for Qatar Sussex Stakes bid

Galileo Gold wins at Goodwood last year / Picture by Louise Adams
Galileo Gold wins at Goodwood last year / Picture by Louise Adams

Trainer Hugo Palmer today declared himself ‘very happy’ with Galileo Gold’s progress ahead of his bid to land the £1m race at the Qatar Goodwood Festival.

The three-year-old winner of the 2,000 Guineas and St James’ Palace Stakes is bidding for a famous treble in Glorious Goodwood’s showpiece contest on Wednesday, July 27.

He is growing and getting stronger and bigger- it is like a body-builder going to the gym. He had two serious bits of work last week and acquitted himself very well in both of them.

Hugo Palmer

Galileo Gold won one of the festival’s two-year-old races a year ago and is owned by Sheikh Joann, the man at the centre of the megabucks ten-year Qatar sponsorship deal. The horse has even been used as the ‘pin-up’ of the event, featuring in an image by fine art specialist Ripley in promotional material.

Palmer, speaking at the press launch of the second Qatar Goodwood Festival, said: “I am very happy with Galileo Gold. There is a very nice break between Royal Ascot and Goodwood, five weeks between the races which is perfect.

“He had an easy time of things after Royal Ascot and we are going through the process of actually building him up. He ran three Group One races within six weeks which is quite a big ask for any horse.

“He takes his work well - we weighed him this (Monday) morning and he was 15 kilograms heavier than last Sunday. It is not fat - he hasn’t had a day off and it is not overweight.

“He is growing and getting stronger and bigger- it is like a body-builder going to the gym. He had two serious bits of work last week and acquitted himself very well in both of them. And rather than running up light, he goes straight into his feed-trough and puts on more weight.

“On the rare occasions I go to the gym, you see people taking these protein drinks and shakes to build their muscle and it is exactly what he is doing.

“These very young horses are changing week-to-week, month-to-month - they are still learning a lot and we are still learning about them - you can only find out on the track.”

Questioned about Galileo Gold’s victory in the St James’ Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot last month when Frankie Dettori sent his mount to the front over a furlong out, with the length-and-a-quarter second The Gurkha always playing catch-up, Palmer replied: “I can only take what Frankie said afterwards and what he has continued to say since.

“Our horse had to be able to do it from the worst of the draw - he jumped extraordinarily quickly and showed remarkable speed throughout the early part of the race.

“Frankie was very aware of where everybody was around him and behind him. As soon as he got onto the slightly better ground in the straight, he kicked and took distance out of the field. That meant he was in front of the main part of the field for fully three furlongs.

“Frankie insists that Galileo Gold was idling and he is adamant that if a horse had come to him then Galileo Gold would have gone through more gears.

“I watch this race at least 25 times before I go to work in the morning and 15 before I go to bed! I also think the fact that Awtaad was stopping in the run to the line, I feel that it heightens the impression of The Gurkha catching us - I don’t think he was at the speed it looked like he was.

“The fact that Galileo Gold won at Goodwood last year removes the worry about whether he will handle the track. When you take a horse to Goodwood for the first time, and it is really a fairly unique course and different from anywhere else, and this time last year, I was worried about whether he would handle it. I don’t have that worry this year.”

Dettori is likely to get the ride again - but with a host of top milers, three-year-old and older, also in the frame, connections know Galileo Gold will have to be at his best.

Read more on the build-up to Glorious Goodwood in the Chichester Observer, out every Thursday

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