Masar out to spoil Saxon Warrior’s history bid at Epsom

Donnacha O’Brien riding Saxon Warrior (C) wins The Qipco 2000 Guineas Stakes at Newmarket Racecourse. Saxon Warrior has a challenger in Masar, in the Epsom Derby. (Getty Images)
Updated 01 June 2018
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Masar out to spoil Saxon Warrior’s history bid at Epsom

  • In English 2000 Guineas winner Saxon Warrior, Coolmore have made a play that could create a nearly unstoppable force were he to win the Epsom Derby today.
  • Masar is the only Godolphin representative in the field of 12, that includes the Aga Khan’s Hazapour and Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed of Dubai’s Dee Ex Bee.

EPSOM: Ballydoyle and Coolmore versus Godolphin and Darley is a rivalry that goes back more than 20 years but if there is one element of it that stands out above all others it is Fantastic Light’s tussle with Galileo in 2001.
Fantastic Light avenged his defeat in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes with a narrow and thrilling win in the Irish Champion Stakes, but although he won that particular battle Galileo has since swung the war very much in favor of the Irish outfit as the world’s best sire. At 20 years of age he remains a dominant force, but strategically Coolmore are already looking beyond the horizon.
In English 2000 Guineas winner Saxon Warrior, Coolmore have made a play that could create a nearly unstoppable force were he to win the Epsom Derby today.
The Irish syndicate of John Magnier, Derrick Smith and Michael Tabor have sought the bloodlines of Deep Impact, Japan’s version of Galileo. They sent their Group One-winning mare Maybe to Deep Impact and the product of their meeting was Saxon Warrior, who is the clear favorite for the 239th running of the world’s most important race.
Win, and Coolmore are likely to ramp up their visits to the Japanese legend who leapfrogged Darley’s Dubawi in January as the world’s most expensive advertised sire at $275,000.
Donnacha O’Brien guided Saxon Warrior to victory at Newmarket, but it is Ryan Moore who will be in the saddle in pursuit of his third win in the $1.9 million contest.
Trainer Aidan O’Brien has revealed that Saxon Warrior will tilt at the Triple Crown, the three races that start with the 2000 Guineas and finish with the St. Leger at Doncaster in September — it has not been won since Nijinksy in 1970. What an irony it would be if Godolphin could derail those ambitions this afternoon with Masar.
Six years ago Coolmore’s Camelot won the first two legs and was thwarted at Doncaster by Godolphin’s Encke, a horse who passed drugs tests both before and after the race but was later found to have been administered steroids by now-disgraced trainer Mahmoud Al-Zarooni.
Much like Saxon Warrior is for Coolmore, Masar is a son of 2008 Derby winner New Approach, who was owned by Princess Haya of Jordan, and his mother is the tough UAE Derby-winning filly Khawlah. He may be a fine advertisement for the ruler of Dubai’s bloodlines, but whether he is good enough is a matter of debate.
Masar is the only Godolphin representative in the field of 12, that includes the Aga Khan’s Hazapour and Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed of Dubai’s Dee Ex Bee. The lack of Godolphin numbers puts Masar at a tactical disadvantage under William Buick, even if the pairing has lucked out with gate 10, which has produced the most winners of the race with nine.
O’Brien has a stranglehold on how the 12-furlong event could play out, as Saxon Warrior, who is poorly drawn in stall one, is accompanied by stable companions Delano Roosevelt, Kew Gardens, The Pentagon and Zabriskie.
Sheikh Mohammed has displayed a knack of naming horses, none more so than when he changed a colt’s name from Yaazer to Dubai Millennium before that horse won the 2000 Dubai World Cup.
Masar is named after an academic and expatriate exchange training program that was set up under Sheikh Mohammed’s patronage.
The students are likely to be at Epsom today. As is Sheikh Mohammed. It remains to be seen whose vision will become reality on these rolling downs south of London.


Godolphin happy with Thunder Snow ahead of Dubai World Cup defense

Updated 25 March 2019
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Godolphin happy with Thunder Snow ahead of Dubai World Cup defense

  • Five-year old bidding to become first horse to win back-to-back Dubai World Cups.
  • $12 million race takes place at Meydan on Saturday.

LONDON: Thunder Snow is preparing well as he bids to become the first horse to win back-to-back Dubai World Cups, according to Godolphin trainer Saeed bin Suroor.
The five-year-old memorably won the showcase $12 million race at Meydan by five and three-quarter lengths, winning in a track record time last year. He returned to the track on Super Saturday two weeks ago, finishing second in the Group 1 Al-Maktoum Challenge Round Three.
And Godolphin are expecting big things from him in the famous race. Bin Suroor, the most successful handler in the history of the 2000m dirt feature with eight winners to his name, is feeling confident.
“He did his final serious piece of work on Saturday and went very well indeed,” the Godolphin trainer said. “He needed his Super Saturday outing — his first run since November — badly and has come on a lot for it. We expect him to run a big race under conditions we know suit him, but obviously it is a good race.”
Thunder Snow has already made history as the only horse to win both the Group 2 UAE Derby and Group 1 Dubai World Cup, but if he is to win this Saturday then he will be revered for years to come.
One of his big rivals in the race will be Yoshida. Trained by Bill Mott he arrived in Dubai on March 19 in preparation for the cash-rich race. The Japanese-bred son of Heart’s Cry landed in the Emirate off a sixth-place finish in the inaugural Group 1 Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational at Gulfstream Park.
He won the Turf Classic at Churchill Downs, as well as the prestigious Woodward at Saratoga last year and Riley Mott, assistant to his father Bob, said Yoshida is looking good ahead of the big race.
“He’s settled in really well,” he said. “He traveled great and we’re very happy with him. The facilities here are top class. This is my seventh time over here and we’re treated very well.”
Yoshida went out just after 7:00 a.m. in Monday to stretch his legs over the famous dirt track.
“He just had a routine gallop this morning and we let him stand in the gate. Nothing too serious,” Mott said.
Jose Ortiz, who has piloted Yoshida though his last two starts and was aboard for the Grade 1 score at Churchill Downs, will make his first appearance in Dubai. Mott said he expects Ortiz, who guided Yoshida to a closing fourth-place effort in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, will have plenty of options in the 2000m race.
“It sounds like there’s a lot of pace from the local horses, but we have a horse that’s pretty versatile in the way he runs,” Mott said. “He’s able to adapt to the pace scenario. It’s just a matter of how the race develops in front of him.”