Our ear to the ground man has a 50-1 tip for Doncaster as the flat returns and Michael Owen gets his man

HUGO PALMERS move to Manor House Stables was the worst kept secret in racing.

The deal is done and Michael Owen has his man – but he almost didn’t.

Michael Owen and Hugo Palmer will start their first runners together this weekend


Michael Owen and Hugo Palmer will start their first runners together this weekend

Palmer, 41, made the move from the hustle and bustle of Newmarket to leafy Cheshire not once, but TWICE before he was finally convinced.

Money is not an issue for the classics trainer, he has never had to look for a few copper coins next to the couch.

So Owen has sold him a life up north, away from the dominance of a few powerhouses that are beginning to squeeze second-tier coaches out of the big prizes.

Palmer told me, “It wasn’t an easy decision, quite the opposite. I turned Michael down twice, that tells you all you need to know.

“We met in both December and January and both times I said no. Then I was on vacation with my wife and he tried again.

“We took stock and in the end it was too good an opportunity, even if it would mean a lot of personal upheaval for my family and I.”

In 2016, Palmer was the talk of Newmarket after Galileo Gold stormed to a famous victory in Guinea under Frankie Dettori in 2000, the season after Covert Love really put Palmer on the map.

At that time he trained over 140 horses, but last season it was only half. Racing is a fashion game.

weekend warrior

REVICH (3.35 Doncaster) is worth risking at big odds in SBK Lincoln. Richard Spencer’s six-year-old is less exposed than the trendiest types but loves a big field and was an unlucky sixth at last year’s renewal when he blew the start completely. This time he’s lighter in weight and can be assisted with paddy power at 50-1.

Convincing all of his large owners to make the move was the hardest part for Palmer, and he racked up the air miles to get them into submission.

It worked and he’s moving most of his team up north from last year and taking over most of Tom Dascombe’s old tribe. With a snap of his fingers he’s back to almost 140 horses.

He said: “I need to get back in the top ten, Michael and I want to build a real powerhouse.

“There’s a lot of money in this part of the world, with that comes the enthusiasm for racing and hopefully we can get those people to have horses with us.”

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Palmer’s first runner from his new yard is likely to be in Doncaster this Saturday and he is already planning to race with stable star Dubawi Legend via a gallop on the racecourse at the Craven meeting straight to the 2000 Guineas – exactly the same route the Galileo Gold took took.

Palmer, the new Lord of the Manor, will hope history repeats itself.


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Cieren FALLON JR’s new appearance as number one in Qatar Racing is already giving him a headache. The youngster is in line to drive hot Lincoln favorite Mujtaba for trainer William Haggas but may be needed to drive in a paltry rookie race at Kempton instead. Fallon will put the undefeated four-year-old through an important piece of work this morning and then pray his bosses will let him ride the horse on Saturday. Adam Farragher and Stevie Donohoe snap on his heels when he is sent to Surrey instead.

Flat season starts on Saturday in Doncaster… or does it?

Almost 20 top jockeys from this corner of the forest will be in Dubai on the night of the World Cup and it took me ten minutes online to find out that the jockeys’ championship doesn’t start until the weekend in Guinea.

When does the flat season start? Your guess is as good as mine…

Frankie Dettori was in Cheltenham last week to enjoy the festival


Frankie Dettori was in Cheltenham last week to enjoy the festivalCredit: PA

WILLIAM MUIR has booked Frankie Dettori to drive Pyledriver at this Saturday’s £2.6million Sheema Classic in Meydan. Stable jockey Martin Dwyer recently had a nasty fall while galloping and stands with a bent knee for a ban on the sidelines. Dwyer is waiting for the scan results before saying when he’ll be back, but the Muir camp are confident his Pyledriver can run into the money this time around after a no-show in Saudi Arabia.

NO wonder Tony Bloom was smiling broadly after Energumene’s Champion Chase win. When it rained on Wednesday, a massive £160,000 bet was placed on the winner with a south coast company and you don’t have to be as smart as Bloom to figure out where that came from. But the team close to Triumph Hurdle hoped Porticello had burned his fingers after Gary Moore’s youngster was only able to finish sixth. Over 20,000 were handed over to the bookmakers and not a dime was returned. Ouch.

Tony Bloom gushed after Energumene's victory in the Champion Chase at Cheltenham


Tony Bloom gushed after Energumene’s victory in the Champion Chase at CheltenhamCredit: PA

THE “boys” in Ballydoyle purr about The Antarctic, a two-year-old brother of Speedball Battaash. Coolmore recently spent £750,000 to buy mum Anna Law and is expecting big things. Trainer Aidan O’Brien is likely to get him ready for a run in the spring and he’s already hoping he’ll be smart enough to book a ticket on the plane to Royal Ascot.


PERSIAN FORCE put a smile on Richard Hannon’s face at home in front of the Brocklesby (1.15). The speedy two-year-old is owned by Kia Joorabchian’s Amo Racing and this team is desperate to win the race after their Forca Brasil was controversially eliminated before being eliminated last season.

In Saturday’s Cammidge Trophy (1.50), those close to GARRUS are expecting a big run. Trainer Charlie Hills has a knack for sprinters and he believes this gray can still improve this summer.


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