Saxon Warrior leads O’Brien’s bid for a seventh Epsom Derby
2000 Guineas winner odds-on favourite to complete second leg of Triple Crown bid
Donnacha O’Brien riding Saxon Warrior celebrates victory in the Qipco 2000 Guineas Stakes at Newmarket. Photograph: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images
Saxon Warrior tops a field of 12 for Saturday’s Investec Derby at Epsom.
The 2000 Guineas winner sparked dreams of a Triple Crown bid at Newmarket and has been odds-on favourite to win the second leg ever since.
However, Aidan O’Brien has voiced concerns about the recent rain at Epsom as he goes in search of a record-equalling seventh blue riband. O’Brien has also declared Delano Roosevelt, Kew Gardens, The Pentagon and Zabriskie.
Dermot Weld won his first Derby just two years ago with Harzand and has a close relative of the 2016 hero representing him this season in Hazapour, winner of the Derrinstown Stud Trial.
“Hazapour has an each-way chance, but I think it could be a really good renewal of the race,” said Weld.
“It could be a very exciting Derby. The word is that the favourite is an outstanding colt, and the horse that won the Dante [Roaring Lion] was very impressive. “I’m happy with my fella. He’s so laid-back. I was satisfied with his work the other day, but Frankie [Dettori] was delighted.”
Roaring Lion is one of two runners for John Gosden with the rain persuading him to let Sevenna Star take his chance. He will be a first Derby ride for Robert Havlin.
Young Rascal, owned by Investec’s managing director Bernard Kantor, runs for William Haggas with Craven winner Masar aiming to be the first winner in Godolphin’s blue silks.
Harry Dunlop’s Knight To Behold was very impressive in the Lingfield Derby Trial and has his supporters while Mark Johnston’s Dee Ex Bee completes the field. He will be ridden by champion jockey Silvestre de Sousa.
O’Brien’s Rostropovich and Nelson were the only horses not declared from the five-day stage.
Elsewhere, O’Brien launches a four-pronged assault in a bid to win Sunday’s Prix du Jockey Club for the first time. The Ballydoyle handler’s Chantilly quartet is headed by Rostropovich, who ran out an impressive winner of the Dee Stakes at Chester on his latest appearance and heads for France instead of Epsom.
Rostropovich was handed stall three in the official live draw and will be ridden by Ryan Moore. O’Brien also saddles Hunting Horn (14) and Flag Of Honour (12), who were third and fifth respectively in the Chester Vase, as well as Kenya (two), who was last of seven behind Rostropovich on the Roodee.
The British challenge is spearheaded by the James Tate-trained Hey Gaman (13), who gets his second shot at French Classic glory after finishing a narrow second behind Jean-Claude Rouget’s Olmedo in the French 2000 Guineas – the Poule d’Essai des Poulains. James Doyle is on board.
Key Victory (seven), the mount of William Buick, was supplemented by Charlie Appleby and Godolphin following his victory in the Newmarket Stakes at the start of May. Olmedo heads the home team and will break from stall one. Prix Greffulhe winner Study Of Man (six) also appears well drawn in an 18-strong field.