Friday 20 September 2019

Gosden to send his 'Lion' into Derby battle with 'Warrior'

Gosden: “The owners are keen to go for the Derby and it’s exactly where he’s going.” Photo: Getty Images
Gosden: “The owners are keen to go for the Derby and it’s exactly where he’s going.” Photo: Getty Images

Marcus Armytage

Impressive Dante winner Roaring Lion - the only horse to have come close to beating Saxon Warrior - will attempt to make it third time lucky against the Ballydoyle horse after John Gosden announced that the colt's owners had opted to run in the Epsom Derby on Saturday week instead of the French equivalent a day later.

"The owners are keen to go for the Derby and it's exactly where he's going," John Gosden told Epsom's Breakfast with the Stars by telephone. "That's the right choice I have no doubt."

On breeding, Roaring Lion, which will attempt to become the first grey winner since Airborne in 1946, is a mile and a quarter horse and he clocked fast fractions for the last couple of furlongs at York suggesting speed may trump stamina in his case.

"You could argue that Saxon Warrior has too much speed, but in a thoroughbred you need speed," countered Gosden. "You're looking for a high cruising speed and a turn of foot. The hill (at Epsom) usually sorts out the non-stayers. He's in great form, he's very athletic, we had a difficult spring and he wasn't tuned for the Craven.

"He wasn't in the heart of the Guineas and if we can get him back to his Racing Post Trophy form and get involved with Saxon Warrior again then it would be very exciting. Both my Derby winners Benny The Dip and Golden Horn were labelled non-stayers and it was speed that won it for them."

Roaring Lion is currently 6/1 second favourite for the Classic behind Saxon Warrior, which is a 4/6 chance.

Elsewhere, Aidan O'Brien is responsible for nine of the 20 remaining fillies in contention for Sunday's Tattersalls Irish 1,000 Guineas at the Curragh.

Heading up the team are Happily, third at Newmarket behind Richard Hannon's Billesdon Brook, and last year's Cheveley Park winner Clemmie.

Clemmie had been favourite for Newmarket before being ruled out of the race when a stone bruise held up her preparation. "Happily will run and it's the plan to run Clemmie," said O'Brien.

"It will be Clemmie's first start and she will improve a lot from it, whatever she does. It was nothing major (her setback) and as long as she runs a nice race, we'll be pleased."

Karl Burke's Laurens, runner-up at Newmarket, is still possible at this stage but Hannon decided against supplementing Billesdon Brook and Mick Channon has taken out Dan's Dream. Charlie Appleby's Soliloquy and Mark Johnston's Threading are also in the mix.

Lightening Quick is due to have her first start for Johnny Murtagh after leaving the care of Ger Lyons, while Lyons has supplemented Who's Steph, a winner of two trials this season. Kevin Prendergast's Alghabrah is also likely to be among the home team.

On the same card, Cliffs Of Moher and the Roger Varian-trained Defoe remain on course for a clash in the Tattersalls Gold Cup. Last year's Derby runner-up Cliffs Of Moher finally returned to winning ways last time out for O'Brien.

Of the 10 remaining in the Group One, O'Brien also has Hydrangea, Clear Skies, Yucatan and Lancaster Bomber, with the latter having finished third in the Lockinge last Saturday.

Hydrangea won two Group Ones last year, beating stablemate Winter in the Matron Stakes and seeing off the classy Bateel at Ascot on Champions Day.

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