Monday 17 December 2018

O'Brien confident that 'Saxon' can bounce back

Aidan O'Brien. Photo: Alan Crowhurst
Aidan O'Brien. Photo: Alan Crowhurst
Michael Verney

Michael Verney

Aidan O'Brien expects Saxon Warrior to have "learned a lot" from his Epsom Derby experience when his star three-year-old bids to bounce back to winning ways in Saturday's Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby at the Curragh.

O'Brien is eyeing his 13th success in the Irish Classic and Saxon Warrior - fourth when hot favourite in the Epsom equivalent earlier this month - leads a typically strong team for the Ballydoyle maestro.

The son of Deep Impact is as short as 1/2 favourite for €1.5 million showpiece and O'Brien expects him to return to his best in a contest where he is likely to be joined by stablemates Hunting Horn and Kew Gardens, both winners at Royal Ascot last week, among many other candidates.

"We think he will have grown up and learned a lot for that experience. The track at the Curragh will be better for him. Epsom would be fine for him if he was to go back there again. He was just a little bit at sea and was still a bit of a baby last time," O'Brien said.

"He had three soft runs at the back end last year and didn't learn an awful lot. The tracks were all easy he raced on. We think the experience at Epsom would have done him the world of good. His work is finished now and everything seems good."

Further spice may be added to the Irish Derby with another Ascot scorer Old Persian set to make a swift return at the Kildare track.

Having claimed a Newmarket handicap on his seasonal debut, Charlie Appleby's charge has enjoyed the step up in grade, taking a Listed event on the Rowley Mile before prevailing in last Friday's Group Two King Edward VII Stakes.

That was a 'win and you're in' contest for this weekend's Classic with Appleby revealing that owners Godolphin are deliberating whether the son of Dubawi will make the trip across the Irish Sea in the absence of stablemate and Epsom hero Masar.

His participation is being reviewed before today's supplementary deadline as Appleby, who also enjoyed Ascot success with Blue Point in the King Stand, looks to add another Classic to his impressive training CV. Another heading to the Curragh may be Magnetic North as Meath trainer Sheila Lavery bids to gain compensation after missing an intended Royal Ascot appearance.

The impressive Leopardstown maiden winner was an intended runner in the Brittania Stakes before being ruled out with a stone bruise and the three-year-old looks set to return in a Friday handicap at the Curragh providing the ground isn't firm.

Lavery's Lady Kaya - which looked one to follow after a highly-promising third on debut (finishing ahead of two subsequent winners) - is another which is looking for a slight ease in the ground.

"She is a very smart filly, she's in good form, but I don't want to run her on the ground. I'm waiting on a nice bit of ground," Lavery said.

"She came out of the race at the Curragh well. The plan with her is to win her maiden and go from there. She has an entry in the Phoenix Stakes, which I think is warranted."

Elsewhere, Royal Ascot heroine Lagostovegas is one of five potential runners for Willie Mullins as he looks to plunder his first Northumberland Plate at Newcastle on Saturday.

The six-year-old provided the 12-times Irish champion jumps trainer with a fourth victory in the Ascot Stakes last week and could make a swift return as Mullins bids to add another lucrative Flat prize to his resume.

Mullins also confirmed Laws Of Spin, Law Girl, Meri Devie and Gustavus Vassa for the 'Pitmen's Derby'.

Irish Independent

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