Palmero had hearts in mouths before he scored an all-the-way win in Tuesday’s Brierly Steeplechase at Warrnambool.
Palmero went to the front after jumping the first obstacle and was never headed despite putting in three awkward leaps on the second lap.
The gelding’s jockey Steven Pateman blamed himself for Palmero’s indecisive jumping.
“I reckon they were real jockey error,” Pateman said.
Palmero recovered from his mistakes to hold a four-length lead as he cleared the final jump but he had another 400m to go to hold off the challengers.
The Warrnambool crowd applauded Palmero as the $1.80 favourite defied his tired legs to score by 3-1/4 lengths over last year’s winner Cats Fun ($11) with Via Savoia ($31) another two lengths away in third.
Palmero’s trainer Ciaron Maher admitted his main emotion was relief after the top steeplechaser remained unbeaten in three jumps runs since returning from a lengthy injury layoff.
“He’s just a real bold-going horse and it’s his first go around here and I was a bit unsure about him on the heavy ground,” Maher said.
Maher’s next decision will be whether to run Palmero over the gruelling 5500-metre trip in Thursday’s Grand Annual Steeplechase.
The trainer said he would take Palmero to a local beach to help the horse recover on Wednesday and Thursday before committing to a start.
Maher has won the Grand Annual Steeplechase twice with Al Garhood but he rates Palmero as a superior jumper.
The trainer closed the first day of the Warrnambool carnival in fine fashion when Akavaroun took his winning streak to three.
Jockey Paul Hamblin received a four-race suspension for failing to pull up Conserve when the gelding was out of contention in the third race.
Stewards took issue with Hamblin’s decision to send Conserve over the final jump despite the horse being more than 50 lengths from the leaders.