Saxon Warrior fails in Epsom Derby

| June 4, 2018

Saxon Warrior fails in Derby bid finishing 4th behind Godolphin’s Masar

Saxon Warrior’s strong performance to win the 2,000 Guineas laid down a marker for the rest of the field for the flat season. Aidan O’Brien’s charge secured a second-straight victory for the trainer at the event – his ninth overall – extending the Irishman’s record for most wins.

The three-year-old was eyeing a potential Triple Crown with The Derby and the St Leger Stakes in the summer. The last horse to pull off the feat was Nijinsky back in 1970, highlighting the challenge of Saxon Warrior in his bid for greatness.

However, Saxon Warrior could only finish fourth in the Derby, as 16-1 shot Masar, ridden by William Buick, claimed  victory. The 16-1 chance was too good for O’Brien’s 4-5 favourite Saxon Warrior to give Sheikh Mohammed’s Godolphin operation a first Derby winner in their royal blue silks.

There’s a fine art to selecting a winning horse, much like playing a casino game and emerging with success. Both disciplines require nous and experience to get over the line.

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Early success in the Guineas has not translated to a Triple Crown winner for O’Brien since his rise to prominence. His first winner at the event King of Kings struggled in his next outing at The Derby, placing down in 15thbefore being forced to retire.

Rock of Gibraltar was a stud for the Irishman and had an outstanding 2002 campaign. He won the Guineas with a dominant performance. However, O’Brien did not put his charge forward for The Derby, preventing him from making a run at the Triple Crown. Rock of Gibraltar added further crowns at the Irish Guineas, St James’ Palace Stakes, Sussex Stakes and Prix du Moulin de Longchamp, proving his quality at the major events.

Footstepsinthesand had the talent to win it all, and won the Guineas without a great deal of experience under his belt. However, he suffered an injury at Newmarket and was withdrawn from the action before The Derby. George Washington triumphed in the year after his stable-mate in the Guineas, but was not deemed suitable for Epsom, claiming victory at the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Royal Ascot later in the season.

Henrythenavigator was an incredibly strong performer for O’Brien. He defeated New Approach by a nose at the Guineas before beating out his rival once again at the Irish Guineas. Again the Irishman sent his charge towards Royal Ascot and Glorious Goodwood, where he triumphed in the St James’ Palace Stakes and Sussex Stakes in 2008.

O’Brien had to wait four year for his next winner at the Guineas, but Camelot was truly worth it. The bay stallion was truly outstanding, securing victory at Newmarket by a neck. On this occasion, O’Brien did dispatch his Guineas winner to Espom and he was rewarded when his charge delivered a dominant performance to win The Derby by five lengths. Camelot was denied immortality at Doncaster in the St Leger Stakes, losing out to Encke by three-quarters of a length.

Gleneagles was a fine horse for O’Brien, but not a Derby competitor after his triumph at Newmarket at the start of the 2015 term, while the same occurred with Churchill last season. O’Brien now has a decision on his hands where to put Saxon Warrior. He thought he had the quality to pull off the Triple Crown, having known nothing other than victory in his career. It may be time for a reconsider for O’Brien and the horse’s owners, who also owned Camelot in his failed bid.


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