Having landed the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket, Saxon Warrior is a short-priced favourite to give Aidan O’Brien his fifth Epsom Derby in seven years.
The latest Ballydoyle sensation is looking to emulate Camelot in landing the Guineas-Derby double and has been treading a virtually identical path. Both captured the Racing Post Trophy as juveniles prior to winning the Newmarket Classic on seasonal debut at three. Camelot arrived at Epsom with an unblemished record of three victories from three runs, whilst Saxon Warrior heads for the Derby having won all four outings to date. Even the BHA struggled to separate them at this stage of their careers, with Camelot rated at 121 and Saxon W coming here off a mark of 120.
There’s little doubt that this year’s Derby favourite holds all the right credentials to complete the celebrated double. He’s by the Japanese racing sensation Deep Impact. Peerless at home, the colt came a close third in the 2006 Arc and has found similar success as a stallion. On the dam’s side we have yet another Galileo mare, in the 2012 Oaks fifth Maybe. The pedigree suggests the trip will be ideal, indeed, Ballydoyle have hinted that the St Leger may well be targeted should all go well at Epsom. His Guineas success coupled with the continued positive reports from the stable, points to a huge run from Saxon Warrior. He’ll take some beating.
Dermot Weld won the Derby with Harzand in 2016 and is represented by close relative Hazapour. He landed the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial at Leopardstown last time, travelling powerfully throughout and showing the better turn of foot to defeat a couple of O’Brien runners in Delano Roosevelt and The Pentagon. All three reoppose, though I fancy they’ll finish the Derby in a slightly different order. Of the trio I’m inclined to favour Delano Roosevelt, who finished particularly well last time. He’s a lovely imposing colt and his pedigree suggests he’ll enjoy a little juice in the ground.
Roaring Lion takes on Saxon Warrior for the third time and is currently two-nil down. He showed plenty of zip when winning a slowly run renewal of the Dante Stakes at York, though there must be a concern that the ground at Epsom (currently soft) will blunt that speed. The pace of the race is also likely to be far more testing, with the keen front-runner Knight To Behold likely to set decent fractions. Gosden won this race with Golden Horn in 2015, but I’m not convinced that this fella has what it takes.
Wings Of Eagles won at 40s last year, but it’s usually the fancied contenders that prevail in the Derby. Nine of the last 10 renewals went to horses priced at 7/1 or shorter, so in searching for the winner we ought to focus on those at the front end of the market.
One colt that looked to have huge potential when winning the Chester Vase is the William Haggas-trained Young Rascal. He’s by Intello, himself a son of Galileo, out of a Clodovil mare. The pedigree suggests that he’ll love conditions and though his inexperience is a concern, that run at Chester could prove invaluable. Despite his size, he coped admirably with the sharp turns that day and though I fancy Epsom will not be ideal, his raw talent could see him running a huge race. The Haggas team are in sparkling form, as is race jockey James Doyle.
The aforementioned Knight To Behold also lacks experience and may need to settle better than he did at Lingfield last time. He was an impressive winner of the Derby Trial that day but is sure to have more company at Epsom, with Ballydoyle likely to sacrifice one of their five runners at the front end. Nevertheless, this son of Sea The Stars looks a talented sort and may be capable of landing a place at decent odds.
Despite finishing third in the 2000 Guineas, Masar appears to have been written off by many. Currently best-priced at 25/1, this son of New Approach out of a Cape Cross mare ought to be suited by the step-up in trip. The ground may have gone against him, though his form looks as strong as any bar the favourite. Godolphin have a rotten record in the Epsom Derby, but this fella certainly has a chance if coping with conditions.
It’s difficult to see past Saxon Warrior and everything points to him prevailing. Nevertheless, I’ll be putting a few quid on Young Rascal as I believe he has the potential to put in a huge performance. Delano Roosevelt looks best of the remaining Ballydoyle battalion. Good luck to those having a punt.