Hugo grew up in the Scottish borders and learnt to ride at a very young age. Before becoming a trainer Hugo spent time working for Cheveley Park Stud and John Warren at Highclere Stud. He was assistant to Patrick Chamings, and then spent 3 seasons as Hughie Morrison’s assistant trainer. After 5 years as a UK assistant it was Hugo’s good fortune to secure a job in Australia with Gai Waterhouse during which time the team won 8 Group 1’s.
Hugo has worked for some of the racing world’s leading professionals was granted a licence to train in 2011. Starting out with a small team of inexpensive horses, the yard saw a steady stream of success in a short period of time. Making Eyes provided the highlight of 2012 by becoming the stable’s first stakes winner winning the Listed Prix Jaques de Bremond in France. Each of Hugo’s four seasons brought more success that the last, and in 2013 the team tasted their first success at big festival meetings when Ascription won at Glorious Goodwood, and Short Squeeze won at York’s Ebor Meeting. Making Eyes then added a second Listed win at Newcastle, and then the team scored a double on Doncaster’s St Leger Day to make it a special year. The total prize money won has more than doubled each year. 2014 saw a significant advance when Aktabantay won the Group 3 Solario Stakes at Sandown. This was the first Group winner for the team, and they did not have to wait long for the second – just five days later New Providence won the Group 3 Dick Poole Stakes at Salisbury.
2015 broke new ground for the yard. Covert Love was the stable star, winning five times – twice at the highest level. Victorious in the Irish Oaks, the stable’s first Classic, and the Prix de l’Opera, she was one of the highest-rated fillies in the world. Her supporting cast included Group 2 winner Galileo Gold, Group 3 winners New Providence, hawksmoor and Gifted Master and Listed winner Home of the Brave. Together, their exploits saw the stable break the £1m in UK prize money barrier for the first time.
In 2016 Hugo’s team has continued to go from strength to strength. He has secured top level wins in the 2,000 Guineas and St James’s Palace with Galileo Gold and further big wins with Gifted Master Baydar, Wall of Fire, Home of the Brave and his first horse for Godolphin, Best of Days. To date in 2016 his two-year-olds have operated at an impressive strike in the UK of 22% and his three-year-olds at 23%.
Currently in training with Hugo Palmer: Harbour Nights