Saxon Warrior cements Classic claims with battling victory in Trophy test

Sat 28 Oct 2017

By staff

Saxon Warrior cemented his position as ante-post favourite for next year's Epsom Derby with victory in a thrilling renewal of the Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster.

While the story of the race was undoubtedly trainer Aidan O'Brien breaking the record for the number of Group One winners in a calendar year, with this his 26th of 2017, he also appears to have unearthed yet another potential superstar in this imposing juvenile.

The son of Japanese great Deep Impact was something of a surprise winner when dominating his rivals on his Curragh debut in late August, but having proved that was no fluke by landing the Beresford Stakes, he was the 13-8 favourite to maintain his unbeaten record in a Group One his trainer had won on seven previous occasions.

With Ryan Moore on his back, Saxon Warrior travelled powerfully for much of the one-mile journey, but looked booked for minor honours when the John Gosden-trained Roaring Line swept to the front.

However, he veered off a true line when push came to shove, giving Saxon Warrior a chance and he fought back admirably against the far rail to claim a historic victory by a neck.

The winner's stablemate, The Pentagon, was third.

O'Brien said: "He (Saxon Warrior) travelled very strong and Ryan gave him a brilliant ride. When John's horse went by him you thought he was beaten, but he found plenty and we're delighted.

"Ryan said he surprised him how quickly he jumped into it. He was very impressed with him and he's a horse to really look forward to."

Saxon Warrior is a best priced 5-1 favourite for the Derby, but could first bid for Classic glory in the 2000 Guineas, for which he is as short as 6-1.

O'Brien added: "Ryan said he'd have no problem being a Guineas horse, so we could start off in that and go on, but there's plenty of stamina in his pedigree.

Racing Post Champions Day - Doncaster Racecourse

Saxon Warrior was giving O'Brien an eighth Racing Post Trophy success

"He's obviously a very good horse and what he did today was battle, he fought back. I think he'll be comfortable at anything from a mile to a mile and a half. Ryan was adamant he had a miler's pace.

"He's a very special horse, we think. He's done everything we've asked of him and he's only been a baby. I'd say there's no doubt he'll be better on better ground."

Moore was suitably impressed by the performance.

He said: "He's a beautiful horse and he gave me so much confidence the whole race.

"It wasn't going right, but he's very good and that's the difference - they're beautiful horses that are beautifully prepared. He's very good and when the other horse came, I hadn't asked my lad a question."

Paul Smith, son of Saxon Warrior's part-owner Derrick Smith, told At The Races: "I'm so pleased for Aidan and everyone at Ballydoyle.

"It wasn't straightforward, but I've spoken to Ryan (Moore) and he was very happy and very complimentary about the horse.

"He travelled well and toughed it out well, which are the qualities you need in a good horse."

Gosden was pleased with the performance of the runner-up, Roaring Lion.

He said: "He ran a great race, but it's very tough with that wind. The wind literally blew him off a true path. He was last off the bridle and hit the front, but Ryan's horse had the rail and that is a big advantage in the wind. At least we gave him a scare."

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