One of Britain’s most exciting young trainers Hugo Palmer has uncovered a genuine Toorak Handicap 2014 hope for this year’s Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival with a trip down under on the cards for Short Squeeze.
The Cape Cross gelding earned talks of an Australian campaign this season when scoring a gutsy win in the Clipper Logistics Stakes over the mile in York on Thursday evening.
Drawn out wide in barrier 18 of 19 in the clash, the four-year-old was ridden by experienced Irish hoop Pat Smullen who made the daring move of taking the young gun right back under the trainer’s instructions.
The duo made a late charge then out wide on the home straight charging past Brian Ellison’s local hope Top Notch Tonto, runner-up to Olympic Glory in last year’s Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Stakes (1600m), to score by just a long neck on the line.
“The last thing I said to Pat was ‘balls of steel’ and that was the definition of it,” Palmer told the media post-win.
“He (Short Squeeze) hates having horses around him so I said to keep him out the back, take as long as you like and come with a long run in the home straight.”
It was Short Squeeze’s first win since a four and a half length effort at Haydock Park over the same distance back in September last year.
With a mile the horse’s pet distance, the $400,000 Group 1 David Jones NBCF Toorak Handicap (1600m) at Caulfield Racecourse in Victoria on October 11 is shaping up as the perfect assignment should Palmer convince connections an overseas assignment is the way to go.
“He is part-owned by some Australian clients and the plan has been to go to Australia for a possible run in the Toorak Handicap at Caulfield,” he said.
Short Squeeze may not have raced outside of Great Britain in its 15 start career to date but the Newmarket-based Palmer is no stranger to Australian racing and Group 1 success here.
He was formerly an assistant handler to last year’s Melbourne Cup winning trainer Gai Waterhouse under who he experienced the excitement of a Toorak win with the mighty More Joyous in 2010.
This year though Palmer, who took out his full training license in 2011, is looking for his own Toorak Handicap winner with Short Squeeze now well and truly in calculations for the Caulfield Guineas Day feature.
Palmer could still miss out on having his name beside the horse’s name on the Toorak Handicap form guide however with the suggestion out there that Chris Waller would prepare Short Squeeze during the Melbourne campaign.
“If he were to go there, he would probably stay on and be trained by Chris Waller, but that’s very much up in the air,” Palmer said.
“If he were to stay here, I suppose he could have another run and he’s now qualified for the Balmoral Handicap at Ascot on Champions Day in October, and then there’s Dubai to think about.”
Stay tuned to Races.com.au for all the latest international inclusions in the Melbourne majors this spring.
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