Sport Horse Racing

Sunday 21 January 2018

Galileo Gold 'bigger, stronger and better'

Galileo Gold Photo: Julian Herbert/PA
Galileo Gold Photo: Julian Herbert/PA
Richard Forristal

Richard Forristal

Hugo Palmer has confessed to being "terrified" by the fact that Galileo Gold seems to be a better horse ahead of Saturday's Tattersalls Irish 2,000 Guineas than it was prior to its emphatic win in the original version at Newmarket.

Palmer only recorded his first Group One success when Covert Love triumphed in the Darley Irish Oaks at the Curragh last July, before she followed up in the Prix de l'Opera in the autumn.

Galileo Gold then catapulted him into the next stratosphere by stamping its authority all over the 2,000 Guineas field on April 30. The son of Paco Boy is now a 7/4 market leader to become just the ninth horse in the 95-year history of the Curragh Group One to snare the lion's share of the €300,000 spoils having first won the Newmarket Classic.

He is one of 13 left in the mile contest. Aidan O'Brien's Air Vice Marshall - fourth at Newmarket - is expected to line out again, while Air Force Blue, such a disappointing favourite then, is also expected to pose a more formidable threat, ground permitting.

Refreshingly, though, none of this prompts Palmer to go down the road of cautious, platitudinous soundbites.

"It makes me nervous to even talk about it, but he has been absolutely without fault since the Newmarket Guineas," he boomed of Galileo Gold. "He has eaten every single oat and his work has been as exceptional as it always is, and he looks bigger and stronger and better.

"All the signs are that he actually seems to have improved for his run at Newmarket, which is a terrifying thing for a trainer - particularly one as young as me - to have to deal with.

"Every time the stable door opens, you are terrified of what you might find inside; that he is not in the same sort of nick as he was when you put him to bed the night before.

"The Irish 2,000 Guineas is a hugely prestigious race, second only probably to the race that Galileo Gold won at Newmarket. We are very excited to be going there and to be going there with what I hope is a favourite's chance.

"We believe they will all be looking at us, but we've got to go and do it. There is no hiding place in a Group One."

Palmer has saddled just two horses at the Curragh. Covert Love was the first last July, and then Home Of The Brave struck in Group Three company 24 horse later, before later losing the race after testing positive for a prohibited substance.

"It has been a happy hunting ground for me and I hope it will be again," he added.

O'Brien has left six in the colts' Classic as he strives for an 11th win in the race, but he has stressed that Derby favourite The Gurkha is an unlikely runner following its Deauville heroics.

The Curragh ground is good to firm, but Air Force Blue's participation could be in doubt if all the forecast rain materialises, though O'Brien has indicated that Shogun could also line out.

The Ballydoyle genius has left his stunning 1,000 Guineas victor Minding in Sunday's Irish version, but Ballydoyle and Coolmore are more likely runners in that. Adrian Keatley has supplemented Jet Setting for the fillies' Classic at a cost of €30,000.

In the Tattersalls Gold Cup, O'Brien's star filly Found could form part of a fascinating clash with Fascinating Rock, The Grey Gatsby and Time Test, while the exciting Australian import Vancouver could feature in what is shaping up to be a cracking edition of the Greenlands Stakes on Saturday.

There is more mundane activity at Dundalk tonight, where Ionization gets the nap vote in the fillies' maiden.

Pat Shanahan's charge caught the eye when third at the Curragh recently.

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