Simon Holt takes Saxon Warrior to bounce back and win Saturday's Coral-Eclipse at Sandown and he has tips for two other Sandown races.
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If Sandown's Coral-Eclipse Stakes had been staged before the Derby, the ante-post betting for Saturday's Group One would have made no sense with 2000 Guineas winner Saxon Warrior only third in the market behind Masar and Roaring Lion, both of whom he beat at Newmarket.
Since then, of course, the form has been turned round at Epsom where Masar ran out a decisive winner from Dee Ex Bee and Roaring Lion, with Saxon Warrior a somewhat lacklustre fourth.
Along with others, I was prepared to forgive Aidan O'Brien's colt that lapse on account of the course and the fact that he never looked happy on the day, though his failure to win what looked an ordinary Irish Derby last weekend is harder to live with.
In truth, Saxon Warrior has become something of an enigma since Newmarket, and indeed since last season when he defeated Roaring Lion in the Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster, and it's a guess whether O'Brien is merely chancing his arm by turning the colt out again so quickly after The Curragh or because he thinks Donnacha O'Brien's mount can improve fitness-wise and/or will be ideally suited by this drop in distance.
On pedigree, the son of Deep Impact out of the Galileo mare Maybe looked likely to stay a mile and a half a month ago, and his failure to quicken up last week might even suggest he wants further. On the other hand, taking another view, Maybe was a non-stayer when fifth behind stable-companion Was in the 2012 Oaks and Deep Impact's progeny, according to his dosage figure, are best at up to a mile and a quarter.
So could the Eclipse be the solution? If Saxon Warrior wins, his trainer will again be praised for his genius, but another failure will confirm the view of some that the horse is a busted flush.
At the odds, I think he is worth one more chance on the basis that his two defeats subsequent to Newmarket, on which form he should definitely be favourite, have come at a much longer trip.
Both Masar and Roaring Lion have, of course, done exceptionally well since the Guineas and, with the latter hugely impressive over this trip in the Dante at York (even though the form looks average), there may not be much between them this time compared to at Epsom where Masar stayed better.
Meanwhile, O'Brien also runs Cliffs Of Moher, favourite for this race last year when fourth behind Ulysses and mostly disappointing since, and Happily who has probably improved a little bit with her racing his season.
The daughter of Galileo stuck on well I thought, after not the clearest of passages, when fourth to Laurens in the French Oaks last time and is not out of it on her Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere win at Chantilly last October when subsequent French Guineas winner Olmedo was second and Masar third.
With 2016 Eclipse winner Hawkbill well beaten in his last two starts, Richard Fahey's Forest Ranger could prove best of the older horses.
This strapping son of Lawman has won both his starts this season at Newmarket and Chester in good style and is definitely progressive albeit now taking a step up in class and rated 8lb inferior to SAXON WARRIOR and Masar on official figures.
Earlier at Sandown, VIA SERENDIPITY is taken to follow up his recent course and distance success off a 4lb higher mark in the Coral Challenge.
The four-year-old continues to perform consistently for his shrewd trainer Stuart Williams and, while only just over a length ahead of the re-opposing Manson last time, he never really looked like being passed after hitting the front fully two furlongs from home.
This is certainly a bit more competitive but Via Serendipity has never been in better form and, at the time of writing, double-figure odds were available.
Course form could also be significant in the Coral Distaff in which PREENING is fancied to stand a rise in class after her easy handicap win here last month for which she was raised 10lb by the handicapper.
On ratings, this demands more especially up against the former German-trained filly Narella, the winner of a Group Three at Baden Baden last September before finishing last in the Prix Marcel Boussac, but the lightly-raced Cheveley Park Stud-owned selection looks just the type to develop into a bold-type performer.
Preview posted 1130 BST on 06/07/18
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