Horse Racing

Phoenix Stakes: Hugo Palmer unfraid to take on favourite Go Bears Go at Curragh with soft ground lover Ebro River

Hugo Palmer is ready to “roll the dice” as he takes on red-hot Phoenix Stakes favourite Go Bears Go with soft ground lover Ebro River.

The son of Galileo Gold was beaten just three-quarters of a length in fourth in the Group Two Richmond Stakes at Goodwood last month, having finished in the same position in the July Stakes at Newmarket the time before.

Palmer’s two-year-old should appreciate the ease in the going as he looks for a first Group-race triumph.

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“He hasn’t done a lot wrong all year,” Palmer said. “He’s consistently running well and soft ground is important to him, so when I saw the weather forecast I thought I’d leave him in and see how we go.

“The ground has come up soft and I’ve been very happy with him since Goodwood.”

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There is also some collateral form that points to Ebro River as a contender, with the chestnut having beaten Perfect Power – the only horse to beat David Loughnane’s Go Bears Go – at Goodwood.

Palmer said: “As far as I can see the race hinges around Go Bears Go, who was a beaten a head by Perfect Power, and we beat Perfect Power at Goodwood the other day, albeit in receipt of 3lb, but we beat him half a length.

“That 3lb for a length over six furlongs, with Perfect Power having Go Bears Go a neck behind him, that doesn’t leave us with very many feet to make up on paper so we thought we’d roll the dice.

“You just never know, he’s definitely shown a liking for soft ground.”

Go Bears Go, who runs in the colours of Amo Racing, returns to the Curragh on Sunday after winning on his last visit to the track in the Group Two Railway Stakes at the end of June.

His debut victory came on soft ground, an experience that may prove to be valuable as rain has already softened the Curragh turf and more is forecast to fall.

“With the weather forecast, the ground is probably going to be a bit softer than we would like it to be, but he has won on soft ground previously so provided he turns up and gets out of bed on the right side, I think he should take all the beating,” Loughnane said.

“On paper we certainly look the one to beat, but there’s every chance something else in the race could have taken a big step forward since the Railway.

“We’ve probably beaten all of the main market rivals already in the Railway Stakes – he’s a Group One horse, whether he wins on Sunday or not.

“He’s been an absolute pleasure to train, he’s got an exceptional mind.

“We’re going there confident, but we’re well aware Group Ones are not easily won.”

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