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.


FIFA claims progress in letting women attend games in Iran

Updated 18 July 2019
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FIFA claims progress in letting women attend games in Iran

  • Iran will host their first World Cup qualifier in October
  • FIFA wants the issue of women attending men’s games to be resolved before the game

ZURICH: FIFA says Iran’s football federation supports letting women attend 2022 World Cup qualifying games of its men’s national team, though government approval is still needed.
FIFA is working with Iranian authorities to overcome a ban on women entering stadiums for men’s games since the 1979 Islamic revolution.
Some women were allowed to watch the Asian Champions League final in Tehran last November when FIFA President Gianni Infantino also attended.
FIFA wants the issue resolved before Oct. 10 when Iran — the top-ranked team in Asia — hosts its first home World Cup qualifier against Cambodia. The next is March 26 against Hong Kong.
Football’s world body says Iran federation president Mehdi Taj has replied to Infantino saying “the matter has been taken up directly with the minister of sports and youth.”