Curragh report: Saxon Warrior impresses on debut for Aidan O'Brien

Sun 27 Aug 2017

By staff

Saxon Warrior looked a cut above the average two-year-old when making a big impression on his debut at the Curragh.

The son of Deep Impact was one of three Aidan O'Brien-trained colts in the one-mile Irish Times Irish EBF Maiden and was a most authoritative winner.

Coming from off the pace, the 8-1 shot showed a neat turn of foot for Donnacha O'Brien to score by three and a quarter lengths from Meagher's Flag. The winner's stable companion Saracen Knight was half a length away in third, with O'Brien's other runner, the 8-11 favourite Christopher Robin, only seventh.

Bookmakers responded by quoting Saxon Warrior at between 14-1 and 33-1 for next year's Investec Derby.

"It's lovely to find them. He looks a very smart colt," said O'Brien. "He was just ready to come racing. Donnacha said when he pulled him out he took off. That's great.

"He really quickened and when you run those horses you are always hoping you'll find something. He's a big, powerful horse. The dam was very good. Donnacha was very impressed with him and we'll try not to go too quick with him.

"He should come forward and we can do a lot of stuff with him. We can come back for the Beresford or go seven furlongs."

O'Brien's U S Navy Flag benefited from a drop in class to run out an emphatic winner of the Group Three Plusvital Round Tower Stakes.

Not disgraced when fourth to Sioux Nation in the Group One Phoenix Stakes on his previous start, he made the most of a slightly easier task to put his rivals to the sword.

Saxon Warrior

Saxon Warrior made a deep impression on his Curragh debut

Leading all the way on the stands rail under Ryan Moore, U S Navy Flag (5-4 favourite) pulled clear in the final furlong to strike by six lengths from Landshark.

The winner was quoted at 25-1 with Paddy Power for the Qipco 2000 Guineas and O'Brien said: "You'd be delighted with him. We were going to go to the Morny and the Gimcrack, but we waited as it was nicer ground here.

"He's a fast horse and he keeps going. I'd imagine he'll go for the Middle Park or something like that. I'd say that's where he'll probably go.

"Good ground is only an advantage. I wouldn't think he's a soft ground horse, as he's a very good mover and he's fast. You'd say he's progressed from his last run. He galloped out well there."

There was a surprise reverse for the O'Brien team when 2-7 hotpot Ballet Shoes was shrugged aside by Liquid Amber in the Flame Of Tara Irish EBF Stakes.

The Group Three race looked like going to plan when Ryan Moore sent Ballet Shoes into the lead just under two furlongs out, after Black Sails had made the running.

However, Billy Lee had the favourite in his sights and Liquid Amber (10-1) swept by in the final furlong to land the spoils by five lengths for trainer Willie McCreery.

The winner was running just eight days after making her debut, and McCreery said: "You're a genius now when you run them back that quick! I really didn't want to do it, but she bounced out of it and they reopened this race and I saw there were only 12 entries.

"There were only four or five trainers so I knew Aidan had a few entries and it might cut up. I was just hoping for a bit of black type and it just shows you she came on a ton for her race the last day.

"She might not run again this year and we'll stick her into the Guineas for next year. She's going the right way and she's a lovely, big, scopey filly. I loved the way she stayed it out."

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