Palmero is set to back-up in the 2014 Grand Annual at Warrnambool on Thursday after winning the Brierly Steeplechase this afternoon.
Palmero was taken straight to the lead by jockey Steven Pateman and was over five lengths clear of the rest of the field for the majority of the race, but hit the fourth last jump badly and almost fell.
The Hawk Wing gelding was able to recover and jumped the last two jumps safely before battling home bravely to hold off Cats Fun and Via Savoia in the final stages of the race.
Pateman, who was celebrating his second win in the Brierly Steeplechase, blamed himself for the jumping errors of Palmero and believes that the eight-year-old did not relish the heavy ground, but was quick to praise the gelding for his tough front-running performance.
“He made a couple of mistakes, but they were my mistake,” Pateman said after the race.
“I asked him to go a bit big on that ground.
“He chose to chip in, which was the smart thing to do by him.
“I don’t think he is in love with that ground, but he was too good.”
Trainer Ciaron Maher was happy with the performance of Palmero and confirmed that he would back-up in the Grand Annual on Thursday after spending a day at the beach tomorrow.
Maher believes that Palmero will have taken plenty of benefit from his first run on the testing Warrnambool course and feels that the veteran gelding is good enough to become the fifth horse in the last 20 years to win the Brierly Steeplechase and the Grand Annual in the same year.
“He’s pretty bold and that’s his first race around the track,” Maher said.
“It was a top ride by Steve, because he takes a bit of riding.
“He just sat on him, he was very patient and he was able to get it done.
“He made a mistake at Sandown the other day and was able to recover.”
Palmero has now scored six wins from eight starts over the jumps, with his only defeats coming in the 2012 The Australian Hurdle (3400m) and 2012 Mosstrooper Steeple (3600m), and he will be stepping up to 5500 metres for the first time in the Grand Annual on Thursday.
Maher is chasing his third win in the Grand Annual after previously winning the race with Al Garhood in 2010 and 2011.