Derby winner Masar might have been missing, but Roaring Lion and Saxon Warrior served up a treat in Saturday’s Group 1 Coral Eclipse Stakes at Sandown, with the John Gosden-trained colt, just edging out his old rival in a pulsating finish.
In defeating Aidan O’Brien’s Qipco 2000 Guineas winner Saxon Warrior (9/4), Roaring Lion (7/4f) finally gained his revenge on the horse who edge him out of what had looked certain victory in last season’s Group 1 Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster. In the process, Oisin Murphy’s brave mount elevated himself to clear 4/1 favouritism with BetStars for the Group 1 Juddmonte International Stakes at York on August 24 where a rematch with Saxon Warrior (6/1 with Boylesports) and his Derby conqueror Masar (6/1 with Sky Bet) is no forlorn hope, assuming Charlie Appleby’s star recovers as expected from the heat in his leg that caused him to be a late absentee from Saturday’s big race.
Roaring Lion showed a great attitude to get the better of the Ballydoyle raider and a return to York would see him revisit the scene of his impressive four-length romp in the Group 2 Betfred Dante Stakes earlier in the season, prior to finishing third behind Masar in the Investec Derby.
“It was a very good ride [from Oisin Murphy] and I’m thrilled,” Gosden told ITV Racing before noting the fine effort of the runner-up who had finished third only seven days earlier in the Irish Derby. “I thought Saxon Warrior was magnificent, so all credit to Aidan O’Brien.”
The stewards enquired into interference between the first two inside the final furlong as Roaring Lion drifted right, carrying Saxon Warrior toward the far rail as they came clear of third placed Cliffs Of Moher (12/1), but the placings remained unaltered.
“My horse has caused very little interference, if any” said Murphy, “and clearly he was the best horse in the race. He’s a very talented colt. I went out in the race with a very open mind and full of confidence thanks to the owner and the trainer. Thankfully, we delivered.”
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.