Guineas hero Saxon Warrior may be given chance to bounce back in Eclipse
Saxon Warrior, the 2,000 Guineas hero whose crown has slipped following defeats in the Derby and Irish equivalent, could well be given an immediate opportunity to re-establish himself in the Coral-Eclipse Stakes at Sandown on Saturday.
The son of Deep Impact was third in the Irish Derby last weekend, but should he come through an exercise on Thursday morning it is likely he will be declared for Sandown by trainer Aidan O'Brien.
O'Brien is also set to run Happily and Cliffs Of Moher in the £750,000 prize, which he has won five times.
He said on Wednesday: "It's possible that Saxon Warrior will run in the Eclipse Stakes at Sandown on Saturday. He ran a very big race in the Irish Derby less than a week ago, and while he's come out of that very well we're going to leave it until the last minute before making up our minds about whether he'll run.
"He'll be ridden out tomorrow morning and he'll tell us if he's ready or not."
Paddy Power and Betfair Sportsbook reacted to the news by cutting Saxon Warrior to 3-1 (from 14 in the morning) third favourite, while Betway's 9-1 was the best price available.
The trainer added: "Happily is more possible than not to run in the Eclipse, while Cliffs Of Moher is very possible also. No definite plan has been made just yet but that's how we are all thinking right now about the three horses."
It is not just Sandown where O'Brien will be represented at the top level this weekend as he has runners at Belmont Park on Saturday, while St James's Palace Stakes runner-up Gustav Klimt could run in the Prix Jean Prat at Deauville on Sunday.
Ballydoyle's US contenders include Mendelssohn, who never had a chance in the Kentucky Derby after being badly bumped at the start and drops in grade for the Dwyer Stakes.
O'Brien continued: "Mendelssohn and Seahenge run in the Dwyer Stakes. We also run Athena in the Belmont Oaks. She ran well at the Curragh [when third in the Pretty Polly] and we think coming back to a mile and two furlongs won't be a problem to her.
"We were very happy with Hunting Horn at Ascot and he also goes for the Belmont Derby. Threeandfourpence doesn't run."
He added: "Gustav Klimt could run in the Prix Jean Prat on Sunday. He came out of Ascot well and we're very happy with him."
Derby winner Masar, third in the Guineas before reversing form with Saxon Warrior at Epsom, is the Eclipse favourite, ahead of Roaring Lion.
Roaring Lion was beaten by Saxon Warrior in the Racing Post Trophy and finished fifth behind him in the 2,000 Guineas, but was a place in front of his old rival when third in the Epsom Classic.
His camp expect the drop in trip to a mile and a quarter to suit their impressive Dante winner, who is trained by John Gosden.
"I think we're as excited about Roaring Lion as the rest of the country is about the football team," said David Redvers, an adviser to the colt's owners Qatar Racing.
"He worked at Newmarket on Saturday and looks fantastic. He's pleasing his trainer no end and we just have to hope he gets some luck in running.
"He showed in the Dante a mile-two is the trip that suits him ideally. We've just got to hope at that trip he's a better horse than the Derby winner, and the only way to find out is to run at Sandown."
Redvers added: "The trainer is very comfortable with where the horse is at and this is the race he's had in mind for him since the Craven."
Roaring Lion, the mount of Oisin Murphy, hung to his left in the Racing Post Trophy and also edged that way in the Guineas, but connections do not anticipate any problems.
Redvers added: "He couldn't have run any straighter and truer in the Derby, which is the one opportunity where you'd say if a horse is going to let himself down he might do it in that, but he didn't.
"We've got a leading chance in one of Europe's leading Group 1s and how he runs will have a massive effect on how our season looks at the end of the year, but we know we've got a very exciting stallion prospect and we can't wait to see his true colours.
"We think he's one of the best horses, if not the best, we've had."
Forest Ranger was a market mover for the Eclipse on Wednesday, the 14-1 he began the day at nowhere in sight by the evening as he was trimmed to a general 10-1.
Paddy Power's Paul Binfield said: "He's 10-1 with us and there's a nice bit of cash about for him. We think punters have taken note that Richard Fahey nominated this race immediately after he won at Chester and, unlike some of his rivals who might have run since, he goes into the race a very fresh horse.
"It was notable this horse was Paul Kealy's headline tip in the Racing Post Weekender this morning – that might have something to do with it as well."
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