Clive Cox has heaped praise on his staff as Louie De Palma is poised to return to the track after an absence of nearly four years in the Totescoop6 Victoria Cup at Ascot on Saturday.
At times it seemed unlikely the son of Pastoral Pursuits would be able to continue his racing career when he sustained an injury to a hind leg after just three runs as a two-year-old.
He had shown plenty of promise, winning his first two starts before finishing second to Ivawood in the Group Two Richmond Stakes at Glorious Goodwood in July 2014.
Cox, his team and the horse’s owners will finally have their patience rewarded when the six-year-old entire makes his comeback after being sidelined for 1,381 days.
“It’s been a very belated return. He’s obviously had reasons for that lengthy absence and I’m proud of my team and the horse to be back in action,” said the Lambourn-based trainer.
“This is a big step forward, clearly, but it’s a starting point and I’m delighted he’s back on track.
“He had a hind leg injury and we had a few other complications on his way back. It’s been a long job, so I’m grateful to a very supportive owner and my team here.
“This is a first step back. It’s an achievement to be back on the race track and we’re pleased he’s taking part.”
He added: “It’s a competitive-looking race after such a lengthy absence. He’s sure to improve again, but we’re pleased to be taking this first step back.”
Despite his lengthy absence and limited racecourse experience, Louie De Palma has been towards the head of the ante-post betting.
He is drawn six, with market rival Keyser Soze next to him in stall seven.
The latter, trained by Richard Spencer, looked likely to be suited by the drop to seven furlongs after he was caught in the closing stages when third in the Greatwood Spring Cup over a mile at Newbury.
Saeed bin Suroor’s Silent Attack, the Charlie Fellowes-trained Repercussion and John Gosden’s Pouvoir Magique are among other fancied runners in an ultra-competitive handicap.
There is a strong challenge from the north that includes David Barron’s Kynren, Michael Dods’ Get Knotted and David O’Meara’s duo of Firmament and Escobar.