Hugo Palmer is to give Encrypted a well-earned holiday before preparing him for the All-Weather Sprint Championship Final at Lingfield on Good Friday.
With Easter being late in 2019, Palmer can afford to let the three-year-old have time off after he booked his ticket by winning a fast-track qualifier, the Listed Golden Rose Stakes, at the Surrey venue on Saturday.
Asked about the sprint showpiece next spring, Palmer said: “That absolutely is his target. He will probably have one run before, towards the end of March.
“The nice thing about that is it’s over four months away, so he can have a winter break.
“He started off in May at Newmarket, and he’s been quite busy all year, so he can have a break now and have a prep run for the all-weather finals.
“I’ve been really pleased with him this year. We hoped he would improve all year as a three-year-old, and he did exactly that. He’s won £100,000 this year – it’s been fantastic.”
Palmer is looking at Dubai in March for Gifted Master, who was a close fifth behind his stablemate at Lingfield after being taken on for the lead.
“He’s tremendous. When you’re a front-runner it’s nice just to be able to do our own thing up front,” said the Newmarket trainer.
“The three-year-old (Corinthia Knight) took him on heavily all the way, and we were drawn badly. He’s always been ridden one way – I dare say it was the same for the other horse.
“He was only beaten a length and a half and ran very well, although maybe not up to his best.”
Palmer believes improvement is possible, however – at the right venue.
“I know he’s won at Lingfield, but I think he’s better on a straight track. You’re more likely to get a breather into him,” he said.
“His next race will be on a straight track. There is a five-furlong conditions race at Newcastle in January. That does mean coming back in trip, but it is a possibility.
“He hasn’t won a stakes race this year, which is amazing for a horse that has won nearly £200,000 in prize-money this year. He might be quite well-treated at the weights at Newcastle.
“(But) his principal target is to go to Dubai. There’s a new Group Three over six furlongs at Meydan on Super Saturday.
“It was a conditions race when Jungle Cat won it. It’s probably the right thing for him.
“He can have a short break now, too.”