Hugo Palmer is chasing big-race glory in Dubai and Qatar over the next few weeks, his raiding party headed by Mootasadir.
The four-year-old only began his career in April 2018, but has already notched four wins from six starts and is set to tackle the Group Three Nad Al Sheba Trophy at Meydan on February 28th, before a tilt at one of the big-money prizes on Dubai World Cup night.
The trainer said: "We’re trying something new with him in Dubai – the plan is to see if he can stay. He has got better the further he went, starting off over a mile and then winning races over a mile and a quarter and then winning a Group Three at Dundalk over one mile three-and-a-half furlongs. He’s going to go another two-and-a-half furlongs for the Nad Al Sheba Trophy which is a recognised trial for the Dubai Gold Cup."
Mootasadir also has an entry in the $6million Longines Dubai Sheema Classic on March 30th.
"Where we go from there - whether we kick on and go the full two miles for the Dubai Gold Cup, or come back for the Dubai Sheema Classic - will be determined by his first run in Dubai. He’s had a fantastic winter. He has a real shine to him, he’s kept his summer coat and he looks absolutely fantastic."
All four of Mootasadir’s wins have come on the all-weather, but Palmer is unconcerned about reverting to turf in Dubai.
"He’s only run twice on turf – the first time was Derby day. He was very unfortunate that, in such a hot summer, there was an absolute deluge at Doncaster and he ended up running on very soft ground. The next time was quite the opposite at Newmarket, where he didn’t like the undulations on very firm ground. The lovely thing about Dubai, is they water the track very heavily and the ground there is always good. It is a very level track, so we feel that is going to be his best chance to convert his excellent all-weather form to the turf.
“He’s quite a big horse and he has really developed from three to four. He was unraced at two and when he runs in Dubai it will only be the 10th month of his racing life, so I hope we have only scratched the surface with him and that he can progress.”"
Joining Mootasadir in Dubai will be Palmer’s evergreen stable star GIFTED MASTER. The six-year-old will bid to add to his haul of 11 wins and nearly £750,000 in career earnings in the Group Three Nad Al Sheba Turf Sprint over six furlongs on March 9th.
"It is a competitive heat, but he has always gone well fresh. Nearly every season Gifted Master has raced he has won his first turf start, so fingers crossed we can go out there and catch him while he is fresh. He’s been here longest of anyone now – it is the wonderful thing about a good gelding – they keep coming back for you, year after year," the trainer said.
The son of Kodiac defied topweight to win the Unibet Stewards’ Cup at Glorious Goodwood in 2018 and a return to the Sussex Downs could be on the agenda later in the year.
"He was a Group winner at two, three and four and of course last year won the Stewards’ Cup off top-weight as a five-year-old. They reassessed all the sprinters in tEngland this week and he got dropped 2lbs so he is now 1lb above the weight he won the Stewards’ Cup off last year, so we’ll see where he is come high-summer, but he might bid for back-to-back wins in it.
Also heading to Middle East this month is OURS PUISSANT, who will contest the $250,000 Al Biddah Mile in Qatar on February 23rd. The son of Kodiac won at Kempton in October and rounded out 2018 with a second-place finish in a one mile Listed race on the all-weather at Deauville.
Palmer added: "He’s got good form over a mile and shows he stays the trip well. We’re really looking forward to it. He was a good two-year-old, he’s grown and strengthened, so I think he can be better this year.”
Longer-term, Palmer believes Ours Puissant could be a European Classic contender.
“He could be the sort of horse who tries to go one better than Fajjaj did in the German 2000 Guineas later in the year. He’s a son of Kodiac - he gets the mile well, but I’d be surprised if he got any further," he added.