Aidan O’Brien ‘happy’ with surprise Eclipse contender Saxon Warrior

2000 Guineas winner set for quick reappearance after Irish Derby third

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Aidan O’Brien admitted he is “taking a a bit of a chance” sending Saxon Warrior into battle once more in the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown on Saturday.

The 2000 Guineas hero was beaten into third place when hot favourite for last weekend’s Irish Derby, having previously finished fourth when odds-on for the Investec Derby at Epsom.

He was a surprise name among the Eclipse confirmations on Monday, but is set to take his chance after featuring alongside stable companions Cliffs Of Moher and Happily following Thursday’s declaration stage.

O’Brien told Press Association Sport: “Obviously he only ran last week, so we haven’t done much, but he seems to be in good form.

“Obviously we’re observing him very closely because he only ran last week. If there was anything negative we’d flag it up straight away.

“We’re taking a bit of a chance running him back so close, but we’re happy with him.

“We never thought that dropping back in trip would be a problem to him.”

Saxon Warrior faces a rematch with Epsom conqueror Masar, who is one of two runners for trainer Charlie Appleby and Godolphin along with 2016 Eclipse victor Hawkbill.

The score between Saxon Warrior and Masar is one apiece this season, with Masar having finished third in the 2000 Guineas, and Appleby is relishing a potential decider.

Appleby said: “You’ve got the Derby first, third (Roaring Lion) and fourth in there, so it should be a great race.

“I’m pleased Saxon Warrior is running. The Eclipse is known as one of the summer spectacles, so I’m pleased for the race.

“From our point of view we won’t be running away from anything and we think Masar is very much the one to beat.”

The John Gosden-trained Roaring Lion, who finished third in the premier Classic, is also in the final field.

Richard Fahey’s Forest Ranger and Raymond Tusk from Richard Hannon’s yard complete the eight-runner field.

Aidan O’Brien ‘happy’ with surprise Eclipse contender Saxon Warrior

Sandown 14:10, 7 July 2018

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