Michael Owen and Hugo Palmer both admitted to a sense of relief as Ever Given romped home to give the new partnership their first winner together at Chester.
Owen and his former trainer Tom Dascombe were always a force to be reckoned with on the Roodee and upon his appointment, Classic-winner Palmer knew that one of his tasks would be to make sure the team are well represented at the track’s big May meeting.
While Palmer stressed his team would be smaller than normally expected given he has only been at Manor House Stables, near Malpas, a matter of weeks, any nerves would have been calmed by Ever Given’s stylish four-and-three-quarter-length verdict.
For Owen, who went to great trouble to persuade Palmer to make the move north, it was a sense of justification.
“We came here with low expectations as Hugo is still getting to know the horses but to get one on the board and in that fashion, we’re delighted,” said Owen.
“He had a nice draw and Danny (Tudhope) kept it simple, so off top weight that’s a nice performance.
“It’s great to get off the mark here so early but I’ve not employed a kid, I’ve employed someone who has been there and done it. This is for the long-term, however, to have the start we’ve had is super.”
Owen was working in his role as a pundit for BT Sport at Liverpool’s Champions League semi-final versus Villareal on Tuesday evening and did not leave Spain until the early hours.
“My alarm went at 3.30am, I had to fly to Charles De Gaulle as if I’d flown direct it wasn’t getting me here until 1pm and I’d have missed the first couple of races.
“I’ll be knackered in a couple of hours but I’m all right now. We’ve Mr McCann running tomorrow too.”
Mr McCann is owned by five Liverpool players (James Milner, Jordan Henderson, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlin and Andy Robertson) and Brighton’s Adam Lallana and runs in the Dee Stakes.
“Obviously the Liverpool lads have had other things on their minds of late, but they have been down the yard to see him recently. I do know that when I was a playing racing was a big release,” said Owen.
“Now the game is over I’m sure they’ll be tuning in, but with the games coming thick and fast, it’s inevitable they can’t get to the racedays. They have been down to the yard a couple of times and seem like they are enjoying it.
“Just to have a runner in a race like the Dee Stakes with your first horse is some achievement and if he runs well, then the dream is still alive.”
Palmer was not only relieved but also slightly surprised that Ever Given won so easily.
“He’d been working well some days and only OK some others – but he’d never worked badly so we weren’t sure what to expect,” he said.
“It has been like that with all the horses we’ve run, though, as I’ve only known them six weeks.
“I’ve been saying to all the owners ‘I think we’re in the right place and I hope we run well and then we’ll make a plan’ and most of them have run well to be fair – but none of them quite as well as him!
“He’s opened up options for the rest of the year. He doesn’t have any entries but if the ground was similar, could he end up going for the Sandy Lane (at Haydock)? I don’t know.
“We’ve quite a few in the same boat with Ebro River, Hierarchy and Flaming Rib and possibly at some stage Dubawi Legend, too, who also might end up being a sprinter. We could be mob-handed in the Haydock Sprint Cup!”