'Roaring' success points to 'Saxon' Derby claims
John Gosden believes Roaring Lion's devastating Dante Stakes victory pays an "enormous compliment" to English 2,000 Guineas winner Saxon Warrior, proclaiming the pair as "the two nicest colts in Europe".
Gosden's charge was a staying-on fifth behind Saxon Warrior over a mile at Newmarket but relished the extra two furlongs under Kerry jockey Oisin Murphy to skate home by four and a half lengths, with Mark Johnston's Mildenberger (7/2) and Aidan O'Brien's Zabriskie (50/1) next best.
"This is his trip and he's proved himself over a mile and a quarter. I liked the way he hit the line strong. It only pays an enormous compliment to Saxon Warrior, who beat us a neck in the Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster and was imperious in the Guineas," Gosden said.
"He didn't do any of his silly hanging left and playing around. He's always been a right old Jack the lad at home, but he's just professionally got in the zone recently. I was expecting a performance like that. I would have been disappointed if he didn't give it."
Cut to as short as 6/1 for the Derby as clear second favourite behind Saxon Warrior (as low as 4/6), a decision has not yet been made between the Epsom Classic and the French Derby.
"If he's in great nick over the next few days, we'll make a decision about which race to go for. We are in a nice position and it's a wonderful decision to have to make," Gosden said.
"They are the two nicest colts in Europe, we thought we had Saxon Warrior beat at Donny but our boy messed about and he came back to beat us fair and square. I like Epsom and the Derby but I'm not putting words in people's mouths.
"I never shout before a race, but he's been training beautifully since the Guineas. He's mentally in the zone now, he hit the line strong.
"So we'll have to work out whether it's Epsom or the Jockey Club. His temperament is getting better, he's a complete playboy - his trick is rearing up, but he hasn't reared up for two weeks now, he's fit and in the zone, so I think he'll be fine at Epsom."
It was a Group Two double on the day for Gosden, who earlier landed the Midleton Stakes as his exciting filly Coronet (2/1 favourite) - last year's Ribbledale Stakes winner at Royal Ascot - made a successful reappearance with a dominant display under Frankie Dettori.
Irish raiders were out of luck yesterday but better will be expected today as the charge is led by champion Jumps trainer Willie Mullins, who saddles Max Dynamite and Wicklow Brave in the Yorkshire Cup.
An impressive winner of the Lonsdale Cup three years ago on the Knavesmire, the trainer's son Patrick hopes that the Melbourne Cup third Max Dynamite can bounce back to his best after a disappointing spell over hurdles.
"Max is probably just not in love with hurdles and he also wants proper fast ground. It looks like conditions at York will play to his strengths and hopefully he'll bounce back to form," Patrick said of Ryan Moore's mount.
The 2016 Irish St Leger winner Wicklow Brave also makes a bold bid in the hands of Andrea Atzeni, although Gosden's English St Leger third Stradivarius will prove a tough nut to crack in a competitive affair.
"With Wicklow, a lot depends what side of the bed he gets out of. He's not getting any younger, but he retains plenty of ability and hopefully he'll continue to pay his way," Mullins said.