It is looking increasingly likely that Investec Derby hero Masar and defeated favourite Saxon Warrior will meet again in less than four weeks time with connections of both horses indicating they may well bid for the Group 1 Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby at the Curragh on June 30.
It would be great for the Irish Classic if both the big names turn up and do battle once more, although a surprise bid by the Godolphin-owned Derby winner for the Coral Eclipse Stakes over 10 furlngs was mooted on Monday afternoon. Masar was a very impressive winner at Epsom and is clearly ideally suited by a mile-and-a-half, while Saxon Warrior, hot favourite but a well held fourth on Saturday, is still thought of as potentially top-class over the 12 furlong trip by trainer Aidan O’Brien and the Ballydoyle partners.
“Myself and Sheikh Mohammed [pictured top] watched the replays together last night and I think we’re both on the same page,” Charlie Appleby, trainer of Masar told reporters. “We’ll see how he is and how he comes out of the race, but he stayed the mile and a half well and I think the Irish Derby is the obvious place to go. We have no reason to come back in trip at the moment.”
With the Irish Derby sponsors hailing from Sheikh Mohammed’s kingdom of Dubai, Masar looks booked for a trip to Ireland, but will Saxon Warrior be given a chance to redeem himself, the impressive Qipco 2000 Guineas having failed to convince many observers that he truly stayed the half mile longer trip of the Derby?
“He ran a good race,” a gracious O’Brien told The Times. “He just didn’t totally fire for some reason. But I wouldn’t want to take anything away from the winner. These things happen. I’m delighted for Sheikh Mohammed. Nobody deserves it more. That’s what sport is all about.”
Despite being beaten four-and-a-half lengths by the winner Saxon Warrior is a general ante-post favourite to redeem himself in the Irish Derby, William Hill offering a top price of 6/4 about the son of Deep Impact, while they are also top price for Masar who is available at 7/4. Mark Johnston’s gallant Dee Ex Bee, who edged out Roaring Lion for second place at Epsom, is the only other horse quoted in single figures being a top priced 7/1 with Paddy Power, although he is not currently entered in the race and would need to be supplemented.