Masar can turn around Guineas form with Saxon Warrior
Craven winner gives Godolphin a live chance in Derby
IT seems the majority have already decided Saxon Warrior has passed the post as next month's Epsom Derby winner and his credentials are excellent having won all four career starts, including an impressive success in the 2,000 Guineas.
It was obvious enough Saxon Warrior had the best form going into the Guineas yet his 3-1 starting price showed the authority of his victory was unexpected.
However, the hype machine over this colt's ability was under way well before the words Triple Crown passed Aidan O'Brien's lips and there are two reasons why his odds could be a bit skinny.
First there is the question of stamina. That shouldn't be a problem going by his sire Deep Impact, but it's not set in stone on the dam's side as Maybe and his brother Pavlenko were better over shorter.
The other matter is the improvement expected from his Guineas run. It was felt he wasn't fully wound up for Newmarket and that we would see a better Saxon Warrior later in the season. But haven't we heard this before with a Ballydoyle horse?
We certainly did last year with Churchill, but improvement never really transpired after his Newmarket success. In fact, if you look at all nine of O'Brien's winners of the season's first Classic, only three bettered their winning RPR more than once later that term (one of those, ironically, being the disappointing Churchill).
It's very possible Saxon Warrior won't need to improve to win the Derby, especially after his Guineas form got a rare old boost from Roaring Lion in the Dante. There is little between the favourite and John Gosden's grey on their Racing Post Trophy run, although Roaring Lion looks to have far too much speed to be a mile-and-a-half horse around Epsom and, at twice the price, I'll side with another colt who has a 2-0 score over him in Masar.
A nine-length winner of the Craven last month, he looked to be flattered by that win and so it proved in the Guineas, but he still ran really well to finish third. He's beautifully bred, handles the undulations and a fast-ground Derby could be right up his street.
The other horse I want to have on my side is Young Rascal, who looked really good in winning the Chester Vase. What was most impressive was how he and runner-up Dee Ex Bee went clear late in the race, but it was the winner who showed the gears which you need for a Group 1.
The Vase is over 1m4½f, so we know he gets the trip, and that trial has been as good as any over the last eight years with seven horses in that period making the first three in the Derby having recorded a top-two finish at Chester.
Get set for Lightning strike in Lockinge
The Derby may have a strong favourite, but Saturday's Lockinge Stakes is wide open. Heading the betting is another Ballydoyle horse, the filly Rhododendron. She has little experience against the boys, but she's very good at her best and is a decent favourite.
Of those below her in the betting, though, only Limato is a proven class act and he's hard to fancy, being unproven at this trip and generally not at his best until later in the season.
Lightning Spear, on the other hand, is 11132 first time out and, if any horse is overpriced, surely it's David Simcock's veteran.
Had he not had the misfortune of bumping into the likes of Ribchester and Minding, we'd be talking about a two-time Group 1 winner, including in this race last year when he was nearly three lengths clear of the rest of the field behind Ribchester.
Of course the big negative is he's a seven-year-old, but I can't find any other reason why he's 25-1.
He can't have many more goes at the top level, but if there is one last chance for him to bag that Group 1, this is it.