Favourite Saxon Warrior is going to take all the beating in the Beresford Stakes today, says our expert Irish Eyes.
As referenced many times previously, Willie Mullins has a tremendous record with his Flat horses, and once again this year he is operating to a 27% strike rate.
To put that into perspective, the only other Irish-based trained operating at a strike rate above 17% is Aidan O’Brien, who has a very respectable 22% winners to runners. Not only that, but Mullins has been winning the races that matter too.
Riven Light won a Premier Handicap at Galway and a Listed race, Airlie Beach also won a Listed race, Whiteout won a Curragh handicap, Whiskey Sour won two €100,000 handicaps at Galway over five days and Laws Of Spin won a Premier Handicap on Irish Champions weekend.
Renneti is the favourite for the Group 3 Loughbrown Stakes and given he is the highest-rated horse in the race, as well as emanating from the Mullins academy, he must be respected. However, on ratings, it might be that Aidan O’Brien could strike. He has an uncanny knack of training his fillies to progress and progress with the latest example being Music Box winning the Group 3 Sceptre Stakes at Doncaster on her 16th start of 2017, and her 13th in just over 16 weeks. She improved 21lbs in under three months.
Wild Irish Rose is very much in the same category, having improved 22lbs during the same time period, and she has every chance of landing this contest to emulate her stablemate. Renneti is 7lbs clear on ratings but Wild Irish Rose is in receipt of 13lbs and therefore 6lbs well in (or 4lbs if Seamus Heffernan puts up 2lbs overweight, which is a possibility).
Whatever transpires, she will be carrying a minimum of 8lbs less than the others (possibly 10lbs) and she is bred to relish this step up in trip to two miles with her dam being a half-sister to the Ballymacoll Stud-owned Yorkshire Oaks winner Hellenic.
It looks a race where she and Renetti could justifiably be 11/10 joint-favourites and whilst Renetti isn’t always straightforward, Pat Smullen gets a great tune out of him, as was evidenced by his win at the Galway Festival. However, at the prices, Wild Irish Rose could take advantage off her featherweight and consequently the 7/4 with Sky Bet looks more than fair.
The Joe McGrath Handicap presents an opportunity for English-trained Monsieur Joe to take advantage of a massive drop in the handicap in the space of just five months. He was rated 109 for his first two starts of the season but has seen his mark plummet no less than 21lbs over that period, despite running some good races in defeat.
He has won at Listed level twice (both on soft) and at Group 3 level once on good to soft so he will handle the ground, albeit he is versatile enough to go on better ground as well. The 10yo has the reigning Irish champion jockey Pat Smullen on board as well, who is currently locked in a battle with Colin Keane to retain his title and he and agent Kevin O’Ryan are obviously very selective about the mounts Smullen takes given the race is so tight.
He looks like the each-way value at a best price of 7/1 as he bids to be the second 10yo sprinter to prevail in as many days, following the victory of Take Cover at Newbury.
Aidan O’Brien dominates the Beresford Stakes. He has won the last six renewals and 16 of the last 21 running’s of the race. In the five races he failed to win over the last 21 years, John Oxx took three with subsequent Group 1 winners Alamshar, Azamour and the greatest Irish-trained Flat horse in recent years, Sea The Stars which demonstrates the calibre of animal needed to better O’Brien in this event.
The master of Ballydoyle supplies three of the five runners today, and indeed the first three in the betting. It’s very much a matter of potential versus proven form here with the once-raced Saxon Warrior being a best-priced 4/6 whilst his Group 3-placed stablemates are both hovering around the 5/1 mark.
It could be argued that on form either of the two are a better proposition than steaming into the favourite but there are two reasons to side with the son of Deep Impact on this occasion.
The first reason is simple: he was deeply impressive on debut. The race was effectively over with Meagher’s Flag looking to have it in the bag when the eye was drawn to a big horse coming with a withering late run down the stand side. That was Saxon Warrior, who looked for all intents and purposes like he just joined the race inside the final furlong and with 100 yards or so to go, he simply took off.
He was in a completely different league to his opponents and when the penny dropped he quickly, and easily, put over three lengths between himself and the rest of the field. The performance was up there with the most impressive by a maiden this year in England or Ireland.
The second reason for confidence is that of O’Brien’s 16 winners, they have been the favourite on no less than 12 occasions, indicating that he is rarely wrong when it comes to picking the best of his horses in this event. Oh, and finally, the fact that O’Brien indicated this would likely be his next start in the immediate aftermath of that win cements his selection as the nap today for when O’Brien lays one out for a race, he rarely misses.