Saxon Warrior heading to Irish Derby and a potential rematch with Masar
Saxon Warrior is heading to the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby and a potential rematch with Saturday's Epsom hero Masar and runner-up Dee Ex Bee.
While the Aidan O'Brien-trained son of Deep Impact started odds-on favourite at Epsom but could finish only fourth most bookmakers just favour him over Masar for the Curragh Classic on June 30.
Masar's next race is yet to be finalised, punters can have more confidence in backing Saxon Warrior after O'Brien said on Tuesday evening: "We've talked things over and it's been agreed Saxon Warrior will be aimed at the Irish Derby. He seems to have come out of Epsom well, and the Curragh is the plan."
O'Brien has sent out 12 winners of the Irish Derby, most recently Capri – who, notably, finished only sixth at Epsom a year ago.
Saxon Warrior, the 2,000 Guineas winner who ended his juvenile campaign with a victory in the Racing Post Trophy, lost his unbeaten record at Epsom but, while a drop in distance was one of the options floated in the aftermath, he is to be given another chance over a mile and a half.
"I don't think you could say he didn't stay at Epsom as he wasn't stopping all the way up the straight," said O'Brien.
Saxon Warrior was a best-priced 6-4 on Tuesday night for the Irish Derby, with Masar available at 7-4. Dee Ex Bee is a 7-1 chance but would need to be supplemented at €100,000.
O'Brien added that Lancaster Bomber, who recorded his first Group 1 win in the Tattersalls Gold Cup at the Curragh last month, is being aimed at the Prince of Wales's Stakes at Royal Ascot, where Clemmie, who finished only ninth in the Irish 1,000 Guineas, will run in the Coronation Stakes.
"Clemmie needed the run in the Irish Guineas and came out of the race well," reported O'Brien. "She'll go for the Coronation, while Happily, who ran third in both the Newmarket Guineas and Irish Oaks, will step up in trip in the Prix de Diane on Sunday week."
Irish 2,000 Guineas runner-up US Navy Flag will run in the St James's Palace Stakes, according to his trainer, while Forever Together, the Oaks winner, is being aimed at the Irish version.
O'Brien said Mendelssohn, who trailed home last in the Kentucky Derby after being twice hampered in the early stages of a race run on a very sloppy track, is on a break.
"The Breeders' Cup Classic is the plan and he'll probably have a couple of races in the US before then," he said.
Despite having won four Group 1s so far in 2018 –- O'Brien's second-highest total at this stage of the season in the last five years – bookmakers Paddy Power and Betfair Sportsbook are content to offer 10-1 about his beating last year's record-breaking tally of 28 top-flight winners in a calendar year.
Paddy Power spokesman Paul Binfield said: “It does look a tall order for Aidan to break his own record, and ultimately John Gosden could be the man to prevent it with the likes of Cracksman and – if she returns at her best – Enable.”
Aidan O’Brien Royal Ascot specials
Paddy Power/Betfair Sportsbook 8-11 four winners or fewer; Evens five winners or more
O’Brien 2018 top-flight winners total
William Hill 6-4 21 or fewer winners, 22-24 winners; 9-4 25 or more
How’s he travelling? O'Brien Group/Grade 1 hauls
2018 4 so far
2017 6 at this stage, 28 by the end of the year
2016 3 at this stage, 22 by the end of the year
2015 3 at this stage, 18 by the end of the year
2014 2 at this stage, 13 by the end of the year
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