‘Saxon’ On The Warpath As Record Looms

By Tom Frary

With the two main protagonists and an able back-up for Saturday’s G1 Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster, Aidan O’Brien is leaving nothing to chance in his bid for the world record of group and grade 1 winners in a year. Heading the formidable trio of pattern-race scorers is TDN Rising Star‘ Saxon Warrior (Jpn) (Deep Impact {Jpn}), the pick of Ryan Moore over fellow TDN Rising Star and G3 Tyros S. scorer The Pentagon (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}) and G2 Champagne S. winner Seahenge (Scat Daddy). After making a striking impression on debut over this trip at The Curragh Aug. 27, Saxon Warrior overcame unsuitably testing ground to double his tally in the G2 Beresford S. at Naas Sept. 24 and goes the St Nicholas Abbey route here as a consequence. Not seen since beating Theobald (Ire) (Teofilo {Ire}) by 1 3/4 lengths in the Tyros over seven furlongs at Leopardstown July 27, The Pentagon who was equally impressive in his maiden also at The Curragh 12 days prior to that effort, warrants serious respect moving up to this trip which is certain to benefit him on pedigree. Also up in distance is Seahenge, whose success in the Champagne at Doncaster Sept. 16 was followed by a third placing in the G1 Dewhurst S. at Newmarket 13 days ago.

“Saxon Warrior seems to be in good form since Naas,” O’Brien commented. “Hopefully the ground will be nice there. Obviously Seahenge only ran in the Dewhurst, but he seems to be in good form since. The Pentagon has had a bit of a break since his run the last time in the Tyros. He seems to be in good form and is just ready to start back.”

Another TDN Rising Star in attendance is Verbal Dexterity (Ire) (Vocalised), who took the G1 Goffs Vincent O’Brien National S. by 3 1/2 lengths over seven furlongs at The Curragh Sept. 10 and drew comparison with Jim Bolger’s recent champions Teofilo (Ire) and New Approach (Ire) as a result. “I’m very much looking forward to it,” his owner-breeder and trainer said. “Obviously he couldn’t run in the Dewhurst because his scope wasn’t 100 per-cent, but he’s ready again now. The ground looks like being good, so there are no problems on that score.”

This strong edition is boosted by the presence of Qatar Racing’s unbeaten Roaring Lion (Kitten’s Joy), who upset Ballydoyle’s Nelson (Ire) (Frankel {GB}) in Newmarket’s G2 Royal Lodge S. over this trip Sept. 30. “He seems to have improved throughout the season,” the owners’s racing manager David Redvers said. “We had the option of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf, but Mr Gosden felt very strongly that if the ground at Doncaster was reasonable then he would like to go there. We won the race with Elm Park three years ago and had a great day up there. Roaring Lion is very different to Elm Park, but goes to Doncaster with a stronger chance, if anything. I’m very optimistic.”

Amazingly, Andrea Atzeni has ridden the last four winners of this race and his mount this time Chilean (GB) (Iffraaj {GB}) holds strong claims on the evidence of his clear-cut success in Haydock’s Listed Ascendant S. on heavy ground over this trip Sept. 9. “If it had been proper soft ground it would have just inconvenienced some of the others and we know ours handles it,” trainer Martyn Meade said. “He did win fairly comfortably at Haydock, but he does need to step up as it looks an exceptionally tough renewal, certainly compared to last year. The ground being good means those well-bred horses will be more at home, but we can’t do anything about that.”

Sir Michael Stoute is happy to pitch Shadwell’s Gabr (GB) (Intello {Ger}) in at the deep end after his success in a mile Yarmouth novice stakes Sept. 21 and strictly on that form he holds Godolphin’s Oct. 15 Goodwood scorer Loxley (Ire) (New Approach {Ire}). Gabr’s jockey Jim Crowley is hoping he will have a say. “I rode him work last week and he went really well,” he said. “He’s getting better with experience, the horse he beat [Istanbul Sultan] came out and won at Goodwood, so he’s going the right way. I thought he worked super, but it’s a different ball game going into a group one.”


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