Horses To Follow » Palace Rock

Palace Rock

Palace Rock did really well to finish second in the Grade B two-and-a-half-mile handicap hurdle at Navan last Saturday. Settled at the rear of the field early on by Paddy O’Hanlon, just about last of the 17 runners passing the winning post with a circuit to run, he made good ground down the back straight to close in on the leaders as they raced across the top of the track. Fifth jumping the third last flight, he came under a ride on the run to the second last, but he picked up well from there. About two lengths down jumping the last, he stayed on well up the run-in on the far side, his run just flattening out close home, and going down by just a length and a half to The Very Man, a short head in front of Bread And Butter with the three of them clear.

This was a race in which the pace held up well. The first, third, fifth and sixth were in the leading group of five from flagfall, while the fourth horse home was seventh with a circuit to run. Palace Rock was the only horse who was able to get into the race from the rear. Also, he raced towards the inside for most of the race, in a race in which it may have been an advantage to race away from the inside rail. The winner, third and fourth all raced wide for most of the race.

Francis Casey’s horse is a free-going sort, it suits him to be held up, but he has taken a nice step forward this season, and he should continue to progress now. A winner over a mile and a half on the flat at Dundalk last February, he was impressive in winning his maiden hurdle at Navan last March on his first attempt, and his trainer thought enough of him to allow him take his chance in the Grade 1 Champion Four-Year-Old hurdle at Punchestown on his second. A fast pace and a big field suits him well, and he may be better back now over two miles than over this intermediate trip. But he has only just turned five, so there could be a fair bit more to come. The handicapper raised him to a mark of 125 for this run, but he has the potential to go beyond that mark now. He holds entries in both the two-mile Grade B handicap hurdle and the three-mile Grade B handicap hurdle at Leopardstown’s Dublin Racing Festival.
Navan, 22nd January 2022