THERE is very little that Aidan O’Brien and the Coolmore triumvirate of John Magnier, Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith have yet to achieve in racing.
Last year’s record breaking haul of 28 Group One victories is a feat unlikely to be beaten for a very long time, yet there still remains one particularly large itch to scratch.
In 1970, Nijinsky became the first horse in 35 years to win the English Triple Crown; 48 years on and we’re still waiting for another.
Modern day breeding makes the creation of a horse speedy enough to win the 2000 Guineas combined with enough stamina to last the 1m6f St Leger trip extremely unlikely.
That is apart from those horses housed in the idyllic corner of County Tipperary where tomorrow’s Investec Derby (4.30pm) means absolutely everything.
It so nearly happened back in 2012 when Camelot took the first two legs before finishing a heartbreaking second to Encke at Doncaster.
Coolmore are always looking for a horse who can fulfil the Triple Crown dream and they may just have unearthed one this year in the shape of SAXON WARRIOR.
Unbeaten in three starts at two, the son of the Japanese superstar sire Deep Impact surprised many by having the pace to win last month’s 2000 Guineas.
In truth, it may well be that the milers are an ordinary bunch this year, but that won’t matter one iota to the Coolmore team.
On form Saxon Warrior looks incredibly hard to beat, which is why he is even money with Star Sports.
His breeding suggests he should come into his own over 1m4f, while he’ll have raced round the replica version of Epsom’s unique track countless times at home in Ballydoyle.
Ryan Moore is back in the saddle and although the recent rain isn’t what connections would have wanted, Saxon Warrior is the class horse in the race and he should be too good for them.
I’m not too worried about his draw in stall one, as there are only 12 runners and he’s housed next to Knight To Behold who should give him a lovely tow into the race.
The fact that the second favourite, Roaring Lion, was beaten 2½ lengths by Saxon Warrior in the Guineas tells you just how strong a chance the market leader has.
John Gosden’s grey colt was undoubtedly very impressive in last month’s Dante Stakes at York, but there is a big stamina doubt for him on the likely soft ground.
I also worry about his ability to handle Epsom’s contours, so he is passed over at a general 8/1.
Upsets in the Derby are quite rare, that was until 12 months ago when Ballydoyle’s fifth string Wings Of Eagles flew late on to collar stablemate Cliffs Of Moher at a massive 40/1.
A repeat of that is unlikely, but one who I think is overpriced is Mark Johnston’s DEE EX BEE at 25/1 with Star Sports.
The son of Farhh has plenty of experience on the Downs, having won a conditions race here last October and then finishing a close third to Crossed Baton in the Investec Blue Riband Trial in April.
Soft ground isn’t a problem for this big, strapping colt, who ran a cracker to finish just half a length behind Young Rascal in the Chester Vase last month, ironically the same position as Wings Of Eagles the previous year.
He may not be quite good enough, but stamina is his forte and I can see him picking off plenty in the final furlong as their petrol gauges start to flash.
Young Rascal should go well, but he’s less than half the price of his Chester victim and I can also see DELANO ROOSEVELT running into the places at 12/1.
He looks like a typical Galileo who will excel over middle distances and the ground should be perfect for him.
The Investec Derby is set for unprecedented media attention in Japan thanks to the Deep Impact connection with Saxon Warrior.
Racecourse Media Group and Jockey Club Racecourses have facilitated widespread coverage in the country, including a re-run of the race on Sunday’s Good Morning Japan which often pulls in 12 million viewers.
BILL ESDAILE’S INVESTEC DERBY 1-2-3
- Saxon Warrior
- Dee Ex Bee
- Delano Roosevelt