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Palmer and Dascombe supportive of two-year-old schedule at Royal Ascot

Hugo Palmer: looking forward to getting his team of juveniles on the racecourse
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Leading juvenile trainers Hugo Palmer and Tom Dascombe have supported plans to keep two-year-old contests at Royal Ascot and believe there is enough time for trial races.

Although the royal meeting will go ahead in its scheduled position, beginning on June 16, the BHA’s Flat Pattern Committee's latest update stated there "would be changes to the order of races at Royal Ascot".

With racing targeting a June 1 resumption, this could mean two-year-old races are scheduled later in the meeting to allow more time between a juvenile's debut and their Ascot target.

In the original fixture list there was an 80-day gap between the Brocklesby Stakes, the traditional first two-year-old race of the season, and the opening day of Royal Ascot. However, the shutdown of racing has raised the prospect of juveniles struggling for even one prep run before Ascot.

Trainers are behind running the six two-year-old races at the meeting, even if preparations will be far from ideal.

Dascombe, who trained 25 two-year-old winners in 2019, said: "We just need racing back, whether it's a Wolverhampton claimer or a two-year-old Group race at Royal Ascot, and all the two-year-olds will be in the same position.

Tom Dascombe: trained juvenile Arthur Kitt to win the Chesham Stakes in 2018

"It'll be difficult getting horses ready and you'd rather give them a run than go first time, but if that's what you have to do then fine.

"Nobody wants a 70-rated horse to win the Coventry because they're better prepared, but everyone's in the same boat and it's imperative we have these races. If a future stallion doesn't come out of the race then so be it – 2020 will always be the year of the coronavirus but these races should still be run."

Palmer, who trained 19 juvenile winners last season, used explosive 2018 Coventry Stakes winner Calyx as an example of why the schedule would work. John Gosden's sprinter made a winning debut just ten days before coming home victorious at the Royal meeting.

Palmer added: "There's enough time for trials, absolutely. If you take Calyx for example, it was only ten days between his maiden and Coventry.

"That gap is not necessarily your number one plan but with this schedule you could have up to about 19 days. Nobody wants it or plans it but it's a good deal better than sitting at home. 

Calyx: only ten days separated his maiden and Coventry Stakes victories

"I think it's going to be a very different situation and we're going to have to make use of whatever opportunity we get. The two-year-old races will be a little bit more confusing as far as punters are concerned, with less form to go on.

"But traditionally those races are with big fields anyway and some races are full of 66-1 shots who are there to give their owners a day out – that won't be the case this year."

With plans for racing to recommence beginning to come together, Palmer adds that there is a positive feeling around Newmarket.

"The mood that I've noticed has been positive and spirited throughout," Palmer said. "I don't think anyone wants to get too excited as things could go in the other direction, but training a racehorse needs some inherent optimism anyway."

Palmer also pinpointed "two sharp colts" to look out for: London Palladium and Northbound.

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We just need racing back, whether it's a Wolverhampton claimer or a two-year-old Group race at Royal Ascot
E.W. Terms