Trainer Hugo Palmer believes booking the most successful jockey in Breeders’ Cup history and the tight Del Mar circuit can help Home of The Brave pull off a shock win in Saturday’s £1.5million Mile.
Rider Mike Smith, whose 25 Breeders’ Cup wins tally is almost double his nearest rival’s, will ride the 20-1 shot.
Palmer thinks conditions will be in his colt’s favour as he takes on a line-up including Europe’s top miler, Ribchester, US hope World Approval and Aidan O’Brien’s Roly Poly on Saturday.
Hugo Palmer thinks conditions will favour Home of The Brave (right) against Ribchester
Twelve months ago Palmer brought Home of The Brave to the Breeders’ Cup to run the Turf Sprint but knew on seeing the track at Santa Anita that he was running in the wrong race. He feels the opposite about Saturday, when the fast ground and run from the home turn of just over a furlong makes this the ‘ideal race’ for agile Home of The Brave.
The trainer said: ‘No one has ridden more Breeders’ Cup winners than Mike Smith. I went for local knowledge.
‘It is almost the ideal race for Home of The Brave. Bigger horses might not find the nimble turns and short straight as much to their liking as he will. He could be dangerous but Ribchester has to underperform in order for us to beat him.’
Ability to act on a track described as a ‘big version of Wolverhampton’ will be crucial. None of the European jockeys have ridden here but Frankie Dettori will get some practice with a ride for expat trainer Simon Callaghan tonight.
Most of the 33 European runners took their first steps on the Del Mar track but O’Brien’s 13 runners, who arrived late on Monday, will be quarantined until Friday.