Aidan O’Brien expects Ryan Moore to adopt patient tactics on red-hot Investec Derby favourite Saxon Warrior after he was handed stall one in the Epsom Classic.
No horse since Sir Henry Cecil’s Oath in 1999 has defied the inside stall, and the statistics in handicaps over the Derby distance of a mile and a half do not make pretty reading for favourite-backers.
That said, the unbeaten Saxon Warrior oozed brilliance in winning the 2000 Guineas to spark dreams of winning the Triple Crown by claiming the Derby and the St Leger at Doncaster.
“He’s in good form and everything has gone well since the Guineas. We’ve been happy with him since then,” the Ballydoyle handler told Press Association Sport.
“I haven’t spoken to Ryan about the draw, but I’d imagine he would have been taking his time on him anyway.
“He didn’t have any problem with the dip at Newmarket and he wears his head low, so we’ll see what happens at Epsom.”
He added: “We were always looking forward to stepping him up in distance, but in the 2000 Guineas he travelled like a miler and quickened like a miler.
“However, we have always thought he was going to be a middle-distance horse – he is very good.”
Should he be successful, O’Brien will equal the record of seven Derby wins and feels Saxon Warrior has all the qualities needed to add his name to the roll of honour.
“We were very happy with the 2000 Guineas as that was his first run of the season and he was going to progress from it,” said O’Brien.
“There is a nice gap between Newmarket and the Derby so usually if they can handle the dip at Newmarket like he did, then hopefully they should be able to handle the contours of Epsom.
“There are so many variables in races that you cannot control, such as horses around you and position. Obviously, if we are lucky enough to get him to Epsom in good shape, hopefully the rest will fall into place.”
O’Brien also runs Delano Roosevelt, Kew Gardens, The Pentagon and Zabriskie.
Michael Tabor, part of the famed Coolmore triumvirate that powers the Ballydoyle yard, is not taking anything for granted regarding Saxon Warrior’s stamina.
“It’s never an open-and-shut case they’ll get the trip,” he told At The Races.
“It’s the Derby, they’ve got to act round the course, but obviously we think he’s a very good horse.
“I remember years ago (1997) with Entrepreneur heading to the Derby – we thought he was a good thing, but he just didn’t get the trip when we thought he would.
“So, until they’ve done it you never really know. We think and hope he will – but?
“I think Kew Gardens was a little unlucky last time as he lost a shoe and I’m sure the others will come forward
“They are all there and any one could come forward as much as the other, but Saxon Warrior is clearly number one.”