Friday night’s shock news that Investec Derby hero Masar misses Saturday’s Group 1 Coral Eclipse Stakes at Sandown (2.10) having sustained a late injury, opens the way for Roaring Lion and Saxon Warrior to step up to the plate and bid to grasp the coveted 10 furlong showcase event.
“It looks as though [Masar] has given himself a bang to his off-fore this morning,” trainer Charlie Appleby told the Racing Post. “It’s sore, and too sore for him to run. We reviewed it again this afternoon and the right decision, sadly, is not to run. When a horse has inflammation you have to get rid of that before you can properly start investigating and carrying out scanning procedures.”
“I spoke to His Highness Sheikh Mohammed [owner] about the situation and, as he said, we have to do what’s best and right for the horse. This is just one of those things. We now have to get him right and get him back, which is what we will do.”
Masarhas been the long-standing ante-post favourite for the Eclipse following his impressive success at Epsom five weeks ago where he comfortably accounted for both Roaring Lion (third) and Saxon Warrior (fourth). Roaring Lion has been kept fresh since then with a view to taking on Masar again, but Saxon Warrior, a brilliant winner of the Qipco 2000 Guineas in early-May, ran only last Saturday when again seeming to find the Derby trip just beyond his best in finishing third to Latrobe at the Curragh in the Irish equivalent.
It’s was something a surprise to learn earlier this week that Aidan O’Brien’s colt would take his chance again so soon after that tough race, but with Masar now an absentee it’s beginning to look an inspired decision. In the revised market Roaring Lion is now a top priced 7/4 favourite with Paddy Power, and Saxon Warrior is in to 9/4 with Sun Bets, O’Brien’s smart three-year-old filly Happily is now 5/1 with Bet365, with Richard Fahey’s progressive Forest Ranger in to a top priced 11/1 with Betfair.
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.