After only taking out a license in 2011, Hugo Palmer has become a very successful young trainer. He even has one over John Gosden after saddling Galileo Gold to win this year’s QIPCO 2000 Guineas as the champion trainer has yet to land the colts’ Classic.
From working for Cheveley Park Stud and Highclere Stud, Palmer progressed up through the ranks, becoming assistant trainer to Hughie Morrison and then working with Gai Waterhouse in Australia, until he finally took the plunge to become a trainer in his own right.
Beginning with just 11 syndicated horses, the stable has swelled to about 140 horses, some now owned by some of the the world’s leading owners, surely a result of an admirable strike rate – with two-year-olds in particular.
Galileo Gold found Awtaad too strong in the Irish 2000 Guineas next time but turned the tables on him when landing the St James’s Palace Stakes at the chief expense of The Gurkha, the French 2000 Guineas winner.
Little more than a month after landing his first Classic, he almost added another – Architecture finishing runner-up in the Investec Oaks.
Stories that combine gambling and drinking usually end in tears but Palmer says it was a combination of the two that led him on a path towards training.
He fondly recalls the two occasions, as a youngster 20 years ago, that led to him being bewitched by the thoroughbred.
“I was 16 and on the way to the pub with a school friend,” he said with a smile, “and we went into the bookies on the way. I think had a quid on me and he had two. We put them together and ended up backing eight or nine winners in the afternoon, walked out with about £60 each and went to the pub and got completely blind.
“Then I had an argument with the same friend about the Derby. I said Benny The Dip would win and he said it wouldn’t because Willie Ryan was riding – and that the last time he rode in the Derby he fell off.
“I always say to Willie Ryan he is responsible [for where I am now]. I won the bet, won the argument and backed Benny The Dip – and that was it, I was completely hooked.”