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Murphy confident 'Lion' can turn tables on 'Saxon'

Oisín Murphy. Photo: Getty Images
Oisín Murphy. Photo: Getty Images

Michael Verney

Roaring Lion has already been on the receiving end of two defeats from Saxon Warrior but jockey Oisin Murphy is confident of making it third-time lucky in Saturday's Epsom Derby and feels it's far more than a one-horse race.

Saxon Warrior, trained by Aidan O'Brien, ran out an impressive winner of the English 2000 Guineas earlier this month, with Roaring Lion back in fifth, but a blistering display when taking the Dante Stakes makes John Gosden's charge a solid second favourite (6/1) for the Epsom showpiece.

Bidding for Gosden's third Derby victory after Benny The Dip (1997) and Golden Horn (2015) - which both won the Dante en route to Epsom - Roaring Lion is an exciting mount for the Kerry jockey, who is bidding to claim his first blue riband.

"Wouldn't it be lovely to beat Saxon Warrior and, if ever there was a race to do it in, this would be the race. It is really something to look forward to and Roaring Lion deserves another shot at a Classic," the 22-year-old said.

"I suppose I don't ever get excited about too many races, but I'm thrilled to be going into the Derby with a live chance, as these horses are hard to find. This lad looks like he has a decent chance. You don't get many opportunities at winning these sort of races."

Murphy, retained jockey for owners Qatar Racing, is optimistic that the son of Kitten's Joy will enjoy the unique undulations of Epsom and expects him to see out the 12f trip as he bids to overturn his Racing Post Trophy defeat to Saxon Warrior last October when failing by a neck.

"His run in the Dante was very impressive. He is a very well balanced horse and he should go round Epsom no problem. He felt a very good horse at York and a very professional horse so that's exciting.

"He is quite a laid-back horse and he certainly proved that at York and that is a huge positive for Epsom. It was the Roaring Lion we were hoping to see. He was very impressive last year for a big, raw horse and we always thought he would be a better three-year-old.

"So realistically his form from last year is very strong and he probably ran to that in the Dante. The Derby will be a stronger race and nobody knows if he will stay 12 furlongs, but personally I think there is every chance he will."

Another leading contender is Hazapour (10/1) and jockey Frankie Dettori is expecting a "massive run" after travelling to Ireland to partner Dermot Weld's charge in a gallop yesterday.

"I just came to have a feel of the horse and get to know his character. I was very pleased with what I saw. He was a very willing partner and he won his Derby trial very well, so it's all systems go for Saturday. He's going to give a good account of himself," the Italian rider said.

Meanwhile, Jim Bolger left a slow start to the new Flat season behind him at Gowran Park last night when the Kevin Manning-ridden Turret Rocks (13/8 favourite) survived a stewards' enquiry to take the Listed Victor McCalmont Memorial Stakes from O'Brien's Clear Skies (15/8).

Irish Independent

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