Horse racing Saxon Warrior Donnacha O'Brien

Derby Destiny Awaits Saxon Warrior

1 year ago

(Published 02:00, June 2, 2018) – Saxon Warrior is the horse on everyone’s lips ahead of this afternoon’s intriguing Group 1 Investec Derby at Epsom (4.30) with many neutrals hoping the Qipco 2000 Guineas winner can maintain his unbeaten record and set himself up for a shot at the Triple Crown.

It’s 48 years since the legendary Nijinsky landed the Triple Crown – 2000 Guineas, Derby and St Leger – and having gone so close with Camelot six years ago hopes are high that trainer Aidan O’Brien, jockey Ryan Moore, and owners Michael Tabor, John Magnier and Derrick Smith, can finally end that drought.

Pushed out from odds-on to even money with Bet365 following the publication of the draw that saw Saxon Warrior handed the widest berth in stall 1, many punters feel that the son of Galileo is a good thing having bolted up at Newmarket despite fears that the one mile trip might be too sharp for him. The mile-and-a-half of today’s race has always been assumed to be his optimum distance.

Horse racing Ryan Moore

Ryan Moore (above) rides favourite Saxon Warrior in today’s Group 1 Investec Derby at Epsom

“It’s never an open-and-shut case they’ll get the trip,” conceded Michael Tabor on At The Races on Friday. “It’s the Derby. They’ve got to act round the course, but obviously we think he’s a very good horse. I remember years ago with Entrepreneur [1997] heading to the Derby; we thought he was a good thing, but he just didn’t get the trip when we thought he would. So, until they’ve done it you never really know. We think and hope he will – but?”

“He’s in good form and everything has gone well since the Guineas,” O’Brien told reporters. “We’ve been happy with him since then. I haven’t spoken to Ryan about the draw, but I’d imagine he would have been taking his time on him anyway.

“We were always looking forward to stepping him up in distance, but in the 2000 Guineas he travelled like a miler and quickened like a miler. However, we have always thought he was going to be a middle-distance horse – he is very good. The 2000 Guineas was his first run of the season and he was going to progress from it.”

Good support in recent days has seen Chester Vase winner Young Rascal, trained by William Haggas and owned by Bernard Kantor of race sponsors Investec, backed down to a general offer of 7/1, although Sportingbet still go 8/1. John Gosden’s Group 2 Dante Stakes winner Roaring Lion (see video above) was surprisingly easy to back on Friday, drifting out to 9/1 with Unibet, while Frankie Dettori’s mount Hazapour, trained by Dermot Weld, is now down to single figures and is also a best priced 9/1 with 10bet.

Paul Alster

Written by Paul Alster

Paul Alster has been part of the British and international racing media for more than three decades working as a race commentator, TV/radio presenter, journalist, betting correspondent, SP returner, and form analyst. He’s always sought out overpriced runners in handicap races, a quest that excites him as much now as it did at the start of his career.