MATTHEW PALMER : It was unexpected

Matthew Palmer n'aura pas attendu longtemps pour signer sa première victoire sur notre turf. L'Australien a fait mouche à sa cinquième monte pour le compte d'Amardeep Sewdyal sur Victory Team, qui a bouleversé tous les pronostics en dominant le favori Answeringenesis à l'issue d'une sage course d'attente. Même Palmer n'arrivait pas à croire qu'il venait de s'imposer au Champ de Mars.
Sur le papier, tous craignaient principalement Answeringenesis, qui avait conservé son invincibilité sur notre hippodrome en résistant à Var's Dream lors de la journée inaugurale. Le représentant de Preetam Daby avait progressé depuis, mais il montait de classe et affrontait un lot plus compétitif. Sa ligne intérieure et son handicap étaient des éléments qui faisaient craindre ses adversaires. Même Matthew Palmer n'y croyait pas trop samedi dernier.
« Look, we know that Victory Team was going well. However, he was a new horse, it was his first start, he had a wide gate and the hot favourite already had a run under his belt. It did not look that great on paper. But I knew how well the horse was. So it was not surprising, but it was a surprise at the same time. »
Le handicap de sa ligne extérieure, Matthew Palmer l’a surmonté avec une facilité déconcertante pour se positionner sur l'arrière-main du meneur. À partir de là, il avait des raisons d'espérer et en entrant dans la ligne droite finale, il a cru davantage en ses chances de succès. « I knew we could make it just after straightening, once I gave him a proper squeeze. Then I thought to myself that I would get there, that I would beat him, but that it would be right on the line », déclare Palmer.
Answeringenesis s’est montré très accrocheur, mais Palmer n’a pas baissé les bras et a usé de son talent pour permettre à sa monture de grignotter du terrain à chaque foulée, avant de surprendre le favori dans les tous derniers mètres. « It took me four or five seconds to realise what happened. Then I said to myself : he won ! To be honest, I was very shocked. It was unexpected, but even more unexpected to get my first winner after two meetings only with such a little string. That was the biggest thrill. »
Les gagnants ont été dignement acclamés par la foule, une expérience que l'Australien a particulièrement appréciée. « The atmosphere was electric. It is something I have never seen in the world before. We have the same ambiance in Australia on the major days. But here it is like this every week. That's the amazing thing about racing in Mauritius. Every Saturday you have this big crowd yelling your name. Some people were very happy because it was a long odd, some others were yelling « go home Palmer ! » because I beat the favourite. You get a mix of feelings in the crowd, but it was a fantastic experience », nous déclare le sympathique jockey avec le sourire.
Il ajoute : « It was very exciting to ride my first winner here. To be honest, I didn't think that it would come so soon as we only have 10 horses at work. But I am very relieved that it has. It takes that edge off. The first winner usually is the hardest and I have knocked that out over pretty quick. So I am very pleased. »
Pour en revenir à Victory Team, Palmer partage l'avis de son entraîneur à l'effet que le cheval avait encore une marge de progression. « He was probably not 100% fit and he will definitively take improvement over that run. As far as the other horses are concerned, they are all progressing nicely. We don't have a big string, but they are all pretty genuine. »
Maintenant qu'il a ouvert son compteur, le moral de l'Australien est encore plus haut qu'il ne l'était déjà et il est optimiste à propos de sa carrière à Maurice. « To win a race definitively gives you a confident boost, not only for myself, but for the whole stable. It is good for everybody, the trainer, the grooms, the owners especially. It gives them a lot of faith back in me. I am a new rider here and there are a lot of expectations. So it is good that I can deliver early in the piece. It is a moral booster for every body. »
Matthew Palmer a eu une pensée spéciale pour sa famille et il n'a pas oublié son père, dont il a suivi les traces au Champ de Mars. « My wife and my daughter were at the races. They were cheering on and that made it special to me. Winning in Mauritius is also particular, as my father also rode here. Not a day goes by that I don't think of him. I am sure he is looking down and that he is very proud, but I am more proud of him than he is proud of me. »