Epsom Derby 2018: Favourite Saxon Warrior Must Be Worth Opposing6 min read
The unbeaten 2000 Guineas winner Saxon Warrior is a worthy favourite for the Investec Derby at Epsom next month, but at his current odds of he must be worth opposing given his breeding suggests he is not guaranteed to stay a mile-and-a-half.
If he does stay, he will be hard – almost impossible to beat but he is the brother – not half-brother – of a 7f winner and his dam (Maybe) certainly didn’t improve for the step up in distance when fifth in the Oaks, although to her credit she was only beaten four lengths. She only raced twice more after the Oaks on both occasions back at a mile.
I thought it was interesting and perhaps significant that Guineas winning jockey Donnacha O’Brien thought 10 furlongs would be the colt’s optimum trip, when interviewed in the immediate aftermath of the Newmarket classic. If you are going to back a horse at such short odds I would not want any potential stamina doubts although I appreciate I am in a minority with my reservations.
Yes, his innate class and brilliance might see him prevail even if he is not a genuine stayer at the trip, but I would prefer to look elsewhere for an each way alternative. Note impressive Dante winner Roaring Lion does not enter my calculations given I felt John Gosden appeared to be leaning more towards the French Derby than Epsom when interviewed at York.
The long-range weather forecast has improved in recent weeks and there is not much rain due to hit the track in the period running up to the two-day meeting.
My two each way alternatives are recent Classic Trial winners Knight To Behold at and Hazapour, , and I feel both are guaranteed to stay and will act on ground that is likely to be good or faster if the meteorologists are to be believed.
Aidan O’Brien suggested at a recent Open Day at Ballydoyle that Kew Gardens would be one of four likely colts he will take to Epsom. It might be worth noting that the stable won the 2017 Derby with their fifth choice (Wings Of Eagles) as far as jockey bookings and the market was concerned. Do note the brilliant Cracksman was beaten a length in the Derby 12 months ago.
Knight To Behold did us a favour when winning the Lingfield Derby Trial despite refusing to settle and having to make much of his own running under Richard Kingscote for Harry Dunlop. There were many who felt the jockey pinched the race from the front, but I felt he was going away again at the finish and I hope he is more amenable to restraint at Epsom with that first run of the season under his belt.
The time was only marginally quicker than the Oaks Trial thirty-five minutes earlier but there was significant rain during the afternoon and the winning time I feel should be marked up. I would argue that the colt would be much shorter in the betting if he were trained by a more high-profile handler and I feel he is an exciting prospect.
There was a real glint in the eye of Dermot Weld after his Hazapour won the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial at Leopardstown earlier in the month. The colt was allowed to go off at – nibbled at from 25s – for his trial as a result of the weight of money for the Ballydoyle duo The Pentagon and Delano Roosevelt and O’Brien nominated the pair as also being likely representatives in his Derby squad.
Hazapour is a nephew of the yard’s Epsom winner Harzand and looks entitled to improve for the step up to 12f for the first time in the Derby.
There was talk of the Triple Crown for Saxon Warrior at the Ballydoyle open day – only – but I’m not convinced he will turn up on Town Moor even if he does win the Derby. Saxon Warrior has never raced at a trip other than a mile and yes, it is possible that he might improve for the step up in trip as a son of Deep Impact, but at he is readily overlooked.
Hazapour ½ point each way
Knight To Behold ½ point each way