Palmetto a Diamond in the rough

John Sargent says the under-rated Palmetto has continued to thrive since his last start win.

PALMETTO. Picture: Steve Hart

Five Diamonds contender Palmetto is yet to win beyond 1600 metres, but trainer John Sargent has no qualms about him extending to 1800 metres in the $2 million showpiece. 

The tough gelding booked his spot in Saturday's race with a fighting victory in the Prelude (1500m) and Sargent said that on pedigree and racing style, he had no concerns over the extra journey. 

"Not with his breeding and he runs on speed, so he is going to be right in there and we'll be after the $2 million," Sargent said. 

"The extra distance, I think, will suit him." 

Palmetto showed his quality with a victory in The Coast earlier this year and Sargent held him in high enough regard to test the waters in the Group 1 Doomben Cup (2000m). 

That venture didn't come off, but the horse was far from disgraced in finishing 5-1/2 lengths from the likes of Huetor and Numerian. 

"And that was at the end of his campaign, now he's going the right way," Sargent said. 

Kathy O'Hara partnered Palmetto in the Prelude and has retained the mount in the Five Diamonds (1800m) at Rosehill. 

While the horse started double-figure odds in his lead-up, Sargent said he had needed racing to bring him to his peak and "took a long time to get right". 

"He seems to be really well now, and his coat is really good so hopefully he's on the way up," he said. 

"Kathy O'Hara came and galloped him last week and she thought he was exactly as he was last start or had improved. 

"A few of those form horses have come up from Melbourne but I think he's good value." 

Palmetto was a $13 chance for the Five Diamonds after drawing barrier three on Wednesday with betting headed by the Tony Gollan-trained Antino  ($3.40), who drew immediately inside Palmetto.

Hope In Your Heart ($15) was among the acceptances but landed barrier 17 with trainer Kerry Parker indicating he would monitor her condition before deciding whether she backed up from her unplaced effort in the Empire Rose Stakes at Flemington last Saturday.