Racing Post Trophy winner Saxon Warrior gave Aidan O’Brien his 26th Grade/Group 1 winner of 2017 at Doncaster on Saturday and, in doing so, broke the world record previously held by legendary American trainer Bobby Frankel.
The unbeaten winner was cut from 7s into 4/1 favourite with BetVictor for the 2018 Derby and also heads the market at 5/1 (from 10s) for the 2000 Guineas – he looked more a Derby than Guineas horse to me although he did travel through his race like a top class colt.
Some cracking racing on both sides of the Irish Sea today including at Ayr where I hope to see Global Stage (1.30) get off the mark over hurdles for Fergal O’Brien. The gelding was beaten 10l on debut in the Grade 1 Tolworth Hurdle at Sandown having shown plenty of promise in a Haydock Bumper last November.
His form tailed off after Sandown and I’m not convinced throwing the gelding in at the deep end on his first start over timber was a wise move. This is something of a recovery mission for the 6-year-old who was a winning point-to-pointer in his native Ireland but, with another summer on his back, he can take what looks a decent Maiden Hurdle.
The Novices’ Handicap chase is a belter and I remember thinking we would see a different animal next time out after Well Above Par finished runner up over the minimum trip at Perth on his reappearance at a time when the Lucinda Russell-string were not firing. This step up in trip will suit but a market move for Star Cracker (2.40) would be well worth noting for Harry Whittingham.
The selection was a winning pointer in his native Ireland and had a light campaign last season over timber at a time when the yard were out of sorts. He might be capable of defying an opening mark of 109 now switched to the larger obstacles.
Minella Suite (3.50) has failed to complete in his last two starts but he looked sure to take a hand when coming down four out at Hexham on his reappearance and is taken to finally get his act together for Rose Dobbin whose yard remain in good form.
At Leicester Fire Brigade (2.00) would not want the ground to dry out too much but he ran a cracker when a close third over nine furlongs at Newmarket last time and he drops back a furlong this afternoon. Jamie Spencer takes over in the saddle for Michael Bell on the 3-year-old who is 4lbs higher than at HQ.
The valuable Beginners’ Chase at Galway has attracted a quality field with last year’s runner up Free Expression, chasing debutant Sutton Manor and the 2016 Cheltenham Pertemps Hurdle winner Mall Dini all highly respected, but the vote goes to Presenting Percy (1.45). The selections runs in the same colours as Mall Dini and won the same race at this year’s Cheltenham Festival as his stablemate did 12 months previously. He subsequently disappointed stepped up in grade at Punchestown but he looks a novice chaser of considerable potential.
I’m looking forward to the hurdling debut of Early Doors (1.00) who runs quite aptly in the Wexford opener for Joseph O’Brien. The selection won the first of two Bumpers he ran in last season and was an excellent third in the other. He has the scope to make his mark over timber.