The son of Deep Impact made a very favourable impression at Naas last Sunday, landing the Group 2 Juddmonte Beresford Stakes.
He shaped as a decent sort on his debut when scoring at the Curragh last month, arriving from well off the pace to win going away by three and a quarter-lengths.
The form of that contest, however, didn’t seem to be anything special with the runner-up, Meagher’s Flag, proving a bitter disappointment next time when a well beaten fourth of six behind Jessica Harrington’s The King at Gowran Park.
And at Tipperary on Tuesday the form was further let down when the third at the Curragh, Saracen Knight, also proved very disappointing.
The Naas Group 2 then represented a big step up for Saxon Warrior, taking on four rivals who had all shown plenty of promise.
Two of the opposition were also Ballydoyle inmates, Delano Roosevelt and Kew Gardens, but the fact O’Brien put Ryan Moore on Saxon Warrior clearly told us he felt this was the best of his, even if the limited information within the form book didn’t indicate such was the case.
Anyway, on the track it was simply no contest, as Saxon Warrior bounded clear in the closing stages to win by an easy two and a half lengths.
What was so eye-catching, though, was the smooth manner with which Saxon Warrior went about his business.
Watching him in action remined me of something Michael Kinane said to John Oxx about the great Sea The Stars.
After riding the horse one-day Kinane reported to Oxx: “This fellow finds it very easy to go very fast’’, or words to that effect.
I’m not for a second comparing Saxon Warrior to Sea The Stars, that would be ridiculous at this stage, but there is no denying O’Brien’s juvenile, in testing conditions, seemed to find Naas rather easy work indeed.
Inevitably the bookmakers reacted and immediately thumped Saxon Warrior to the head of the Epsom Derby market, at around 10-1. For once you could hardly blame them.
Equally inevitable, of course, talk has turned to whether Saxon Warrior will stay a mile and a half and there are those who think it is doubtful.
That is understandable, because at Naas he exhibited real speed and class and, perhaps, will prove best at shorter trips.
But on pedigree he should get 12 furlongs standing on his head. The Japanese horse, Deep Impact, won 12 of his 14 races and never raced at a trip less than 10-furlongs. A brilliant talent, Deep Impact won at distances from ten furlongs right up to two miles.
Saxon Warrior’s mother is Maybe, by Galileo, who was trained by O’Brien to win five times.
She, however, never won beyond seven furlongs, scoring on four occasions at that distance and also at six furlongs.
Only once was Maybe asked to race further than a mile and that was in the Epsom Oaks of 2012, when finishing fifth behind her stable companion, Was.
Not a whole lot went right for Maybe through the race, but she was staying on at the end and wasn’t beaten that far.In any case for now Saxon Warrior is to be enjoyed and the hope is that O’Brien will give us a treat and run him again this season.
I BOW to no one in my admiration of Enable, but wouldn’t dream of backing her at odds-on in tomorrow’s Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe at Chantilly.
She gave us a nice pay-day when running away with the King George at Ascot in high summer, is easily the most likely winner and soft ground holds no fears for her.
But this is a good contest, obviously, and it will be fascinating to see what Aidan O’Brien might have planned to take down the filly.
The way he ran his four horses in Capri’s Doncaster Leger recently raised the odd eyebrow and remember what O’Brien did in the Epsom Derby in June?
He ran six in the race, two near the front, two in the middle and two at the back. O’Brien left the cards fall as they would, it was no skin off his nose which one of them won and, in the end, saddled the first two, 40-1 shot Wings Of Eagles beating Cliffs Of Moher.
There are those who refer to that as team tactics, but a better description surely is a best use of the resources available.
This does look a fiercely competitive ‘Arc and deep down I hope Enable is not odds-on.
I don’t really want to lay her, but business is business and if the odds are deemed to be too tight we will have no choice but to act accordingly.
THERE is a reason why Gordon Elliot has made such giant strides in a relatively short time and it’s that he is just a bloody good trainer.
I feel such was emphasised by two horses of Elliot’s over the last week, starting with Mengli Khan at Navan last Saturday.
Successful twice on the flat in England for Hugo Palmer, he made a highly promising debut over flights when beaten a length into second by the smart Ex Patriot at Fairyhouse in January.
Mengli Khan then returned to Fairyhouse in February, for a Grade 3, to finish a little over 18 lengths fourth behind Ex Patriot. And that was the last we saw of the four-year-old, until he reappeared at Navan. Strongly supported in the market, he went off the 6-5 favourite to beat 29 rivals, Mengli Khan pulled far too much for his own good, but still found loads in the straight to win by six lengths.
He didn’t seem of any great account when fourth at Fairyhouse, but here’s one who doesn’t think that way anymore.
Then at Roscommon on Monday, Elliot produced Burren Life, who developed into a professional loser in bumpers last season, to take an admittedly modest maiden hurdle by ten lengths.
Burren Life jumped for fun and there is at least hope for him now, after this costly purchase had headed for summer quarters with little cause for optimism.