Chester Boodles May Festival: Michael Owen says Hugo Palmer can become Champion Trainer at Manor House Stables

Manor House Stables founder and former England striker Michael Owen believes his new handler Hugo Palmer can become Champion Trainer one day.

Palmer moved from his former Newmarket base earlier this year to Cheshire to become a salaried trainer at Manor House Stable, having previously been at Kremlin Cottage Stables.

He sent out Galileo Gold to win the 2000 Guineas and St James’s Palace Stakes in 2016, and trained 54 winners in 2021 alongside a total of five Group One wins including Ebro River in last year’s Phoenix Stakes.

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Michael Owen wants his Manor House Stables operation to become one of the most successful yards in the country after hiring Hugo Palmer as his new in-house trainer

The move came after Tom Dascombe parted ways with Owen’s Manor House Stables in March after a 12-year association with the former Liverpool and Real Madrid forward.

And when speaking exclusively to Sky Sports Racing ahead of the Boodles May Festival at Chester, Owen said he thinks his new trainer has all the ability and facilities at his disposal to become the UK’s leading handler.

“This is my pride and joy,” Owen said. “I set this up 17 or 18 years ago from scratch. On the track, I want pleasure, fun, our clients, owners and staff to be proud of what we are doing.

“And I also want Hugo to be hugely successful and I can’t see why he can’t be the best or be a Champion Trainer in years to come.

“I don’t know how many times I searched down the trainer’s table and thought ‘who would be the right fit for this place?’

“There’s not that many I must say, with a lot of people tied in and Hugo was one of those. I kept skipping past his name thinking it’d be impossible to get him in.

“Too big a name, too big a trainer and he’s set up in Newmarket. Anyway, after a while I managed to twist his arm and I’ve brought in the full package here. He’s top class at what he does, on the track and off it.”

Some of Owen’s highlights at Manor House Stables include Irish St Leger and Dubai Gold Cup winner Brown Panther, as well as star sprinter Kachy.

And while he admitted the thrill will never match scoring a big goal for club or country, Owen said the winning feeling on the racecourse does come close.

“It’s very different from simply going onto a football pitch and performing to actually running a business.

“Scoring a goal is euphoric. I’ve searched and searched for something to replicate it but nothing well.

“But I tell you, when your horse is on the bridle a furlong out and you think it’s going to win, that comes close!

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Trainer Tom Dascombe believes returning to Lambourn will be a huge help after suffering a tricky time since leaving Michael Owen’s Manor House Stables

“That adrenaline rush is quite something! Nothing will match scoring a goal in a big game but this is the nearest thing to it.”

Palmer keen for local winners

Having left the racing hot-bed of Newmarket, Palmer is keen to have winners at his local meeting this week, with the Boodles May Festival an early barometer of his progress with Manor House Stables.

But he was keen to point out that leaving Newmarket isn’t a backwards step, highlighting that you don’t need to be based there to maintain a powerful stable.

“Obviously, when you are in Newmarket, the July meeting is a very busy time of year so when you are in Chester, the May meeting is going be a very busy week,” Palmer said.

“It’s probably the quietest week that Manor House will have had in quite a few years but I hope it’ll be the quietest May that we’ll have in future years.

“A lot of these horses I’ve only known for a few weeks so it’s hard to have a huge number ready but we have got some ready and it’ll be lovely to have a winner and hopefully we have some chances.

“Both of us have got massive ambitions for this place to make it one of the biggest and best yards not only in the country but in the world.

“There’s lots of huge yards outside of Newmarket, in the North of England and you don’t need to be in Newmarket to be a powerhouse yard and that’s what we are on the way to being.”

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