Horse racing Saxon Warrior Donnacha O'Brien

Warrior on Irish Derby Warpath

1 year ago

The signals from Ballydoyle remain positive ahead of Saturday’s Group 1 Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby at the Curragh with Aidan O’Brien more than satisfied with the wellbeing of odds-on favourite Saxon Warrior.

On paper, there isn’t a great amount of strength in depth to this year’s renewal of the €1,500,000 mile-and-a-half contest, a race worth far more than the Investec Derby at Epsom earlier this month in which Saxon Warrior was sent off 4/5 favourite to maintain his unbeaten record but ended up finishing a one-paced fourth behind the impressive Charlie Appleby-trained Masar.

Defeat that day under Ryan Moore for the impressive Qipco 2000 Guineas winner came as a shock to many, but O’Brien is philosophical about the loss and believes that in the long run it may well have done his imposing son of Japanese sire Deep Impact a power of good. He is currently a top-priced 8/13 shot with 888Sport to get back on track with victory at the home of Irish Flat racing on June 30.

“He seems good and Donnacha [O’Brien] rode him in his work on Saturday,” the legendary Irish trainer told reporters. “He was a little bit at sea [at Epsom]. He was a little bit babyish in his mind and found the whole experience different. Ryan [Moore] looked after him, which was the right thing to do, and he came out the race very well, which is the main thing.”

“We think he will have grown up and learnt a lot for that experience. I think the track at the Curragh will be better for him. We think the experience at Epsom would have done him the world of good. His work is finished now and everything seems good. All his team are very happy.”

Mark Johnston’s Dee Ex Bee, runner-up to Masar at Epsom, is expected to be supplemented for the Irish Derby and is a top priced 4/1 with Coral. O’Brien, who has won the coveted Classic a remarkable 11 times since 2001, has a hatful of other possible runners, but the final line-up won’t be known until closer to the weekend.

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.