Japanese-Bred Saxon Warrior Takes 2000 Guineas; 300th Group 1 Victory For Aidan O’Brien

Saxon Warrior gave Donnacha O’Brien a very first classic success and his father a remarkable 300th  Group 1 prize when storming to an emphatic length-and-a-half victory in the QIPCO 2000 Guineas at Newmarket in England. Tip Two Win finished second, with Masar third in the British Classic for 3-year-old colts.

Fears about the mile trip being too sharp proved unfounded as O’Brien’s ‘monster’ colt stayed on strongly up the hill to add a second Group 1 success to his CV after winning last year’s Racing Post Trophy.

So impressive was the unbeaten Japanese-bred son of Deep Impact (out of the Group 1-winning Galileo mare Maybe) that he is now a general even money chance to follow up in the Derby at Epsom next month.

The winning jockey said: “It’s very special, I’ve got to say a huge thanks to dad and the owners for giving me the chance to sit on him and hopefully I didn’t mess up today.

“He travelled beautiful and I thought we were the winner the whole way. I probably got a bit excited at the two pole when I gave him a squeeze a bit early.

“He’s an absolute monster of a horse so you never know, he could improve again. I was very impressed, I thought he was a very good horse even on his homework, we’ve made no secret of it, and I think he’s very, very good.

“If I had to put my neck on the line I would say his optimum trip would be about a mile and a quarter, he’s not slow but he’s bred to stay. He’s very relaxed so I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he got a mile and a half but it’s not my decision.”

Winning owner Michael Tabor said: “We thought both the animals were really top class horses and it wouldn’t have been a surprise to us had either of them won.

“Aidan said Saxon Warrior would only improve but he added the caveat that he could still win or at least run a big race, that’s how special he thought he was.

“Aidan might say otherwise but I would say he’ll go straight to the Derby now.

“Obviously a mile is not his ideal trip but when a horse has the speed and class of Saxon Warrior we were always hopeful that a mile would be fine, which it proved to be.

“Common sense would say this wouldn’t be his ideal trip, he’s a mile and a half horse and there is surely more to come from him as he goes up in trip.

“I would rather back it than lay it, evens is what he should be. Other horses will come out of the woodwork but they will have to be good to beat him.

“It’s a few weeks to the Derby and you can never count your chickens but if we arrive there all things being equal, he would have a favourite’s chance.

“If you had asked me before the race who was our number one I would have said Gustav Klimt who had had a run, but he was never really travelling today and I’m not over surprised Saxon Warrior won because I know what Aidan thinks of this horse.”

Roger Teal has a string of 25 horses “including a few jumpers” at his Hungerford base, but he may well fill any vacant boxes following Tip Two Win’s impressive runner-up effort in the QIPCO 2000 Guineas.

David Probert’s mount (50-1) was a length and a half behind impressive winner Saxon Warrior (3-1) and Tip Two Win almost pulled off the fairy tale.

Teal said: “I’m pinching myself. I was trying to watch it out the front (in the stands), but I didn’t bring my binoculars and I couldn’t see. All I could see was his white breast girth. When they came out of The Dip, I thought, ‘Oh my God, I’ve got a chance of winning the Guineas here!’

“When they flashed me, I was about 50 yards from the line and I was standing with [ITV commentator] Matt Chapman. I asked him: ‘Was I second in the Guineas?’ and he just said, ‘I don’t know’.

”It is amazing. This is what we dreamed of since [he won a Group 2 contest] in Qatar. We knew we had a decent animal. He’s a 50-1 shot, but he’s only 50-1 because he’s trained by me. If he’d been trained by Mr. Gosden, he’d have been 5-1. It is just a proud moment for us.”

Royal Ascot may be on the cards for the son of Dark Angel.

Teal added: “We will look at the St James’s Palace Stakes and I guess we’ll take that on, or the Jersey Stakes. We will digest today and see what happens.

“It is amazing. I didn’t pitch him in here because we wanted a day out – we came here because we have a nice horse. I know the Doha form does not stack up, but this now proves it does. That was wonderful – what a little champion! He just never lets me down wherever I put him in. He’s always answered every question.

“I am just so proud of him. It is a big team effort and everyone at the yard has done such a fantastic job. They need to give themselves such a pat on the back. Getting a horse like him, I’m just blessed. We are in unknown territory and it feels good.

“I think Ascot is next. He loves fast ground. Thankfully the sun was with us today and the ground dried up. It is beautiful ground and I don’t think anyone can have any excuse with this ground. I’ve always said he has an amazing stride and he needs to use it on better ground.”

Probert added: “That was a massive performance. Roger and the team do such a great job with the horses, to get them fresh and well. He’s had plenty of time in between his runs.

“We know from Qatar last year that he has stepped up as a three-year-old and he’s come into himself this year. He’s a proper horse this year. He’s not very big but he has a big heart.”

There was a further head back to Craven Stakes winner Masar (5-2 favourite), who was third under William Buick.

His trainer, Charlie Appleby, said: “I’m still very pleased. Had you told me four or five weeks ago that we would be third in the Guineas, I’d have taken that quite happily. William went out with the mindset that we were going to go forward with him. He gave him a lovely ride and he came in and said he ran like a horse who needed a step up in trip.

“When they quickened, Will [Buick] said he got caught flat-footed a bit and when they hit the rising ground, he was galloping back towards them to the line. We will take a strong consideration towards the Derby next. The chances are we will give him a break and go straight there.”

Mark Johnston is similarly looking towards a step up in trip with the Sheikh Hamdan-owned Elarqam, who was a half-length further back in fourth under Jim Crowley.

Johnston said: “Fourth is not bad in the Guineas. You come here wanting to win, so it is a little bit of a downer. I’ve said all along that I was concerned that he was such an inexperienced horse. He beat the second horse three lengths last time out – and that one has had three or four runs since, while we just had a racecourse gallop.

“So, I was always a bit concerned with that. On top of that, we are still left with the debate, particularly since [Sheikh Hamdan’s racing manager] Angus Gold said at the point of the race where he needed to find a turn of foot, he didn’t. He dwelt for a bit and that’s not the mark of a true miler. That may just be inexperience, but at the same time the first impression is he’ll go further.

“We always thought that might be case and that’s one of the reasons we came to the Guineas, as the Guineas is the best trial to see if you need to go further.

“We will go back and see where we go next. The Dante was Angus’s first thought. I have not had a Derby winner. I’ve had a Guineas winner. But at the same time I never like to write anything in stone, particularly with a horse that has only had three runs.

“Also, I always say ‘judge a horse by his best runs’ – although this may be his best run. He has come into today as a Group 3 winner, but he’s shown today that he’ll be able to mix it in Group 1 company without any trouble at all. Whether that’s over a mile or further, I don’t know. But the first impression is that it will be over further.”

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