Bullish Gosden happy to let Roaring Lion tackle Saxon Warrior again in Derby
Roaring Lion, the impressive Dante Stakes winner, was pitched into his third head-to-head with Saxon Warrior on Tuesday with John Gosden hoping a reproduction of his Racing Post Trophy effort can get him "involved" with the favourite in the Investec Derby.
The two-time Derby winning trainer had warned punters to hold fire on the Qatar Racing colt going to Epsom until he had time to see how he came out of the York trial, in which he beat Mildenberger by four and a half lengths.
But on Tuesday during the Breakfast With The Stars event at Epsom Gosden said, "It has all crystallised. We are thrilled with the horse. He ate up, I gave him a lead out and had to put someone on to give him a trot he was playing so much.
"He is in splendid form and the owner is very keen he goes for the Derby so that is exactly where he is going and I think that is the right choice."
Gosden, who won the Derby with Golden Horn and Benny The Dip, said: "I was very clear after he won the Dante he paid a compliment to Saxon Warrior who was imperious in the Guineas. You need a high cruising speed and turn of foot in a Derby. This horse has it. Does he stay a mile and a half? I don't know. We don't rehearse it at home.
"This horse has great form, he is very athletic. I had a difficult spring with him. He was not at full tune for the Craven. He came on in the Guineas where he did wind up racing on his own. I have always longed to run him at middle distances so I hope we can get back to our Racing Post Trophy form and get involved with Saxon Warrior. That would be extremely exciting if we did."
Saxon Warrior is a best priced 8-11 for the Derby but despite his dominance of the market, his trainer Aidan O'Brien is still likely to declare multiple runners.
At Tuesday's forfeit stage he kept six other possibles – Delano Roosevelt, The Pentagon, Kew Gardens, Zabriskie, Nelson and Dee Stakes winner Rostropovich – in the race for which 16 remain.
"The lads haven't got together and spoken about what they want to do and I think that's going to be happening towards the end of this week," he said.
"Saxon Warrior was a very good two-year-old last year and only had the three runs. We were very impressed with him at Doncaster. He got past and fought back and that was a good sign that he was going to stay further than a mile.
"We always thought he would be a very high quality colt and he's done everything right so far. He is a very strong blend of Danehill, Galileo and Deep Impact. We haven't had anything like that before.
"We won't know who the best middle-distance horse is until the Derby. Obviously Roaring Lion was very competitive in York. We've left room for them all to improve and we won't be looking under that bonnet till Derby day."
Godolphin will rely on sole hope Masar, third in the 2,000 Guineas and two places in front of Roaring Lion at Newmarket.
Trainer Charlie Appleby said: "Masar has come out of the race well. He has the pedigree to go a mile and a half for sure. He's showing all the right attributes at home. He is settling very well so I think he has every chance of getting the trip.
"I've always been a strong believer that the Guineas is the best trial for the Derby. As far as I have seen so far it does. It will be William Buick's job on the day to get him to relax and bring him home strong and I am confident both parties will be able to do that."
Harry Dunlop did not bring his Lingfield Derby Trial winner Knight To Behold to the event, but he had good news of the colt, who will be his first runner in a race his father John won with Shirley Heights and Erhaab.
"You can't not be impressed with him,and we've seen him come down a hill and do it on a racecourse when things were made difficult for him. He's got every right to be there. He keeps on improving and he doesn't need to lead. There will be a lot of pace and I think he'll relax."