Investec Derby outsider Emissary set to provide Newmarket trainer Hugo Palmer with a first runner in the Classic
Newmarket-based trainer Hugo Palmer is well aware his first ever Investec Derby runner on Saturday is an outsider.
However, when factoring in his pedigree and the fact Covid-19 has provided an extra month than usual to get ready, Palmer is hopeful Emissary will prove to be a ‘lively one’ in the Epsom Classic.
The Kingman colt would appear to be bred for the task as a half-brother to 2010 Derby winner Workforce, who after clinching the showpiece race by seven lengths went on to land the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe later in the same year.
Palmer said of his 33/1 shot’s background: “He has got a wonderful pedigree. When you get sent a horse that is a half-brother to a Derby winner, you always have in the back of your head he is a Derby horse until he proves otherwise.
“He has got a lot of good attributes which are going to be a big help at Epsom. He has a very strong mind and supreme balance – you need that because you come down the hill there for a very long time.
“He is a strong traveller as well, so he ticks a lot of boxes and deserves his chance.”
Traditionally, the Derby is run in late May or early June, but the global pandemic forced a well publicised delay to the start of the 2020 Flat campaign.
And it worked Emissary’s favour, with Palmer able to give him a much needed run at Goodwood on June 14, when he finished second to fellow Derby entrant Khalifa Sat.
Without that, Palmer would not be sending the Khalid Abdullah-owned horse into battle this weekend.
“I said to Teddy Grimthorpe (Khalid Abdullah’s racing manager) when racing got going that he was only a Derby horse because of coronavirus,” added the Kremlin Cottage Stables trainer.
“He wouldn’t have been ready for the original date because he took plenty of time to get to where we wanted in the spring.
“Around March time I was not entirely happy with him. It was not that he was doing a lot wrong, it was more he wasn’t doing enough right.
“He showed a lack of readiness and was a bit green at Goodwood, and that caught him out. But he has improved from that, you can see he has learned and is heading in the right direction.
“We go into it with our eyes open. He’s got plenty of improvement to make and he is an outsider, but we like to think he is a lively one.”
There will certainly be plenty of experience in Emissary’s saddle after Palmer booked 2016 Champion Jockey Jim Crowley to take the ride.
Crowley had a positive Royal Ascot last month – finishing second to Frankie Dettori in the jockey standings only on placings – and Palmer feels his know-how could prove crucial.
“Jim rode a lot for me the year he was Champion Jockey,” said Palmer.
“He is a top class rider with a good record around Epsom. It is a tough track and to have someone that knows it well is a big thing. He had a phenomenal Royal Ascot and has started the season really well.”
Palmer will be hoping it is a case of back-to-back successful weekends after Caravan Of Hope justified his 9/2 favouritism to win Saturday’s Northumberland Plate at Newcastle.
It was a particularly moving victory for Palmer, who has a lot of ties to the north east.
“I’m a Newcastle United fan, I grew up just north of there, I went to university there and the Plate is one of those races I’ve dreamt of winning,” revealed Palmer, who also saw Collide finish third.
“There aren’t many handicaps on the bucket list, but this is one of them. I’m absolutely chuffed to bits.”
Meanwhile, with regards to future plans for his duo, Palmer added: “Caravan Of Hope will get further and we thinking about the Cesarewitch towards the end of the year.
“Collide has run a lot already this year and will probably have a break in July, but the goal has always been to win the Ebor with him.”
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More by this authorLiam Apicella