The Epsom Picture
May 15th, 2018 | Marten's Current Racing Diary
Things went quite well at Newmarket, with my pick of the outsiders Billesdon Brook landing the 1,000 Guineas.
What this filly did to win a nursery at Goodwood last season from a mark of 87 was remarkable, and although that did not make her an exceptional filly by any means, the performance itself was exceptional.
She landed a Listed race next time out before finishing fifth to Laurens in the Group 2 May Hill and this season she started with a fourth to Soliloquy in the Nell Gwyn. On all lines of form she had to improve, but she is bred to stay beyond a mile and it was her proven stamina that won her the day.
I was a little surprised to see Saxon Warrior win the 2,000 Guineas. In the paddock he towered over his rivals, looking like a chaser in amongst two-year-olds. Notably he is still up behind, indicating that there is some growing to do, while there was plenty of surplus flesh around his belly.
To my eyes he still looked green when he hit the front, perhaps due to his relatively inexperienced rider’s unfamiliarity with the track. Also, at the risk of courting controversy, I am not convinced this was a vintage Guineas.
Saxon Warrior is probably a class above his rivals, which is why he was able to overcome lack of peak fitness. The first eight home were covered by five lengths, while Roaring Lion might have been a length closer had he had something to race with. The time of the race was adequate, with the following day’s 1,000 Guineas run in almost the same time.
Looking ahead, Saxon Warrior should stay a mile and a half but is not cast-iron to do so. He is a second foal and his full brother Pavlenko won over seven furlongs but was beaten on his two attempts at around a mile and a half.
Deep Impact was successful 12 times, at up to two miles and seven times at Grade 1 level. His dam is related to Oaks winner Dancing Rain, but there is plenty of pace in the colt’s pedigree and that is how it looked at Newmarket.
The second concern in regard to Epsom would be his conformation and style of galloping. He is still an awkward mover, but Ryan Moore will take over at Epsom and that should help.
On the evidence to hand Saxon Warrior is correctly priced at a shade of odds-on. It is, though, interesting that Aidan O’Brien may run another three, including The Pentagon and Delano Roosevelt. The former was my long-term selection for the Derby and I believe we have yet to see the best of him. If he lines up at Epsom I would anticipate an improved display.
I am writing before the Dante Stakes but first impressions are that the Derby winner is not among them. Roaring Lion will be out to give a boost to the Guineas form but although he should stay this trip I would be far less sure of the mile and a half.
Crossed Baton, a likeable but somewhat lazy colt, has more to offer while Wells Farhh Go must not be overlooked.
Hazapour rather crept up on us at Leopardstown on Sunday. Although I wrote favourably about the colt in the Dark Horses, I wasn’t sure that he would be good enough to win. By all accounts Dermot Weld thought otherwise, having been delighted with the colt’s work at home beforehand.
Knight To Behold ran away with the Derby trial at Lingfield. I like him a lot, but he won’t be able to get away with that at Epsom.
The colt that has most impressed me is Young Rascal. The son of Intello pulled well clear of his rivals to win a 1m 3f maiden on his return before showing his versatility and trackcraft to beat Dee Ex Bee in the Chester Vase.
The second is a good yardstick while, in winning, the colt showed a sparkling turn of foot. He has both stamina and a change of gear and is trained by a man who knows what is required to win the race.
The one concern would be his knee action, indicating a preference for a little ease in the ground, but you seldom get quick going at Epsom these days so all should be well. There is a lot I like about this colt, notably the surge he produced at Newbury.
It reminded me of Troy.
Bye for now