Racing silks of Mr Derrick Smith
|Foaled||26 January 2015|
|Breeder||Orpendale, Chelston & Wynatt|
|Owner||Derrick Smith, Sue Magnier & Michael Tabor|
Beresford Stakes (2017)|
Racing Post Trophy (2017)
2000 Guineas (2018)
Saxon Warrior (foaled 26 January 2015) is a Japanese-bred, Irish-trained Thoroughbred racehorse. As a two-year-old in 2017 he was one of the best colts of his generation in Europe, winning all three of his races including the Beresford Stakes and the Racing Post Trophy. On his three-year-old debut the colt won the 2000 Guineas before finishing fourth when odds-on favourite for the 2018 Epsom Derby.
Saxon Warrior is a bay colt with a narrow white blaze bred in Japan by Orpendale, Chelston & Wynatt, a breeding company associated with the Coolmore Stud. Like most Coolmore horses he was sent into training with Aidan O'Brien at Ballydoyle. For racing purposes Saxon Warrior is registered as being owned by Derrick Smith, Mrs John Magnier and Michael Tabor although the precise details of his ownership differ from race to race.
He is from the eighth crop of foals sired by Japanese Triple Crown champion Deep Impact, who was the Japanese Horse of the Year in 2005 and 2006, winning races including the Tokyo Yushun(2400m), Tenno Sho(3200m), Arima Kinen(2500m) and Japan Cup(2400m). Deep Impact's other progeny include Gentildonna, Harp Star, Kizuna, A Shin Hikari, Satono Diamond and Makahiki. Saxon Warrior is the second foal of his dam Maybe who was awarded the title of European Champion Two-Year-Old Filly in 2011 when she was undefeated in five races including the Moyglare Stud Stakes. Maybe's dam Sumora was a half-sister to Dancing Rain and closely related to Dr Devious.
2017: two-year-old season
Saxon Warrior made his racecourse debut in a maiden race over one mile at the Curragh on 27 August in which he was ridden by his trainer's son Donnacha O'Brien and started at odds of 8/1 in a fourteen-runner field. After racing towards the rear of the field for most of the way he began to make rapid progress in the last quarter mile, took the lead inside the furlong and won "comfortably" by three and a quarter lengths from Meagher's Flag. Four weeks later, the colt was stepped up in class for the Group 2 Beresford Stakes over the same distance at Naas Racecourse. Ridden by Ryan Moore he was made the 5/6 favourite with the best of his four opponents appearing to be his stablemates Delano Roosevelt and Kew Gardens. After settling in third place, Saxon Warrior took the lead approaching the final furlong and went clear of his rivals to win by two lengths from Delano Roosevelt.
On 28 October, Saxon Warrior, accompanied by his stablemates Seahenge (Champagne Stakes), The Pentagon (Tyros Stakes) and Coat of Arms was sent to England to contest the Group 1 Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster Racecourse. The Irish contingent was completed by the National Stakes winner Verbal Dexterity, while the best of the British contenders appeared to be Roaring Lion and Chilean (Ascendant Stakes). Ridden by Moore, and starting the 13/8 favourite, Saxon Warrior tracked the leaders before going to the front two furlongs out. He was overtaken by Roaring Lion and hampered as his rival hung left but rallied "gamely" in the final strides to regain the advantage and win by a neck. The colt's victory gave Aidan O'Brien a record-breaking 26th Group 1 win of the season and saw Saxon Warrior promoted to favourite for the following year's Epsom Derby.
2018: three-year-old season
Commenting on Saxon Warrior's progress in the early spring of 2018, Aidan O'Brien said "He's done very well and is a massive, big, physical horse. He was a big horse last year but he's bigger this year... He'll probably go straight for the Guineas." As O'Brien predicted he made his seasonal debut in the 210th running of the 2000 Guineas over the Rowley Mile at Newmarket Racecourse on 5 May and with Moore engaged to ride Mendelssohn in the Kentucky Derby the colt was ridden by Donnacha O'Brien. Saxon Warrior was made the 3/1 second favourite behind Masar (Solario Stakes, Craven Stakes) while the other twelve runners included Roaring Lion, Gustav Klimt (Superlative Stakes), Elarqam (Somerville Tattersall Stakes), Expert Eye (Vintage Stakes), James Garfield (Greenham Stakes), Rajasinghe (Coventry Stakes) and Cardsharp (July Stakes). Saxon Warrior was not among the early leaders as Murillo set the pace from Cardsharp, but moved into the lead two furlongs out. Staying on strongly down the centre of the course he won by one and a half lengths from the 50/1 outsider Tip Two Win who took second place ahead of Masar, Elarqaman and Roaring Lion. Donnacha O'Brien commented "It’s very special. Obviously, I’m winning this race and riding in big races because of the position I’m in. I’m just very grateful. He’s a very good horse, he’s a proper horse". Derrick Smith's son Paul said "It was really eye-catching, Donnacha couldn’t speak too highly of him. He said when he quickened it was all over in a flash. He probably got there sooner than he wanted to, but he had so much horse under him. It’s very exciting when they have that speed and look like they’ll get further. All things point to June now."
At Epsom Racecourse on 2 June Saxon Warrior started the 4/5 favourite in a twelve-runner field for the 2018 Epsom Derby. Ridden by Moore he stumbled at the start and had difficulty obtaining a clear run in the straight before staying on in the closing stages to finish fourth behind Masar, Dee Ex Bee and Roaring Lion. Four weeks later at the Curragh the colt started favourite for the Irish Derby, but despite making steady progress in the straight he never looked likely to win and finished third, beaten half a length and a neck by Latrobe and Rostropovich. He was then dropped back in distance and matched against older horses in the ten-furlong Eclipse Stakes at Sandown Park a week later. He was beaten a neck by Roaring Lion after a sustained struggle over the final furlong and looked a slightly unlucky loser as he was bumped by his rival in the final strides. At York Racecourse on 22 August he contested the International Stakes but proved no match for Roaring Lion, and was beaten five length into fourth place.
Assessment and honours
Deep Impact (JPN)
|Sunday Silence (USA)
|Halo||Hail to Reason|
|Wind In Her Hair (IRE)
|Lady Rebecca (GB)|
|Sadler's Wells (USA)||Northern Dancer (CAN)|
|Urban Sea (USA)||Miswaki|
|Rain Flower||Indian Ridge|
|Rose of Jericho (USA) (Family: 1-t)|
- "Saxon Warrior pedigree". Equineline.
- "Deep Impact - Stud Record". Racing Post.
- "Frankel crowned Horse Of The Year at Cartier Awards". ESPN.co.uk. 2011-11-16. Retrieved 2012-06-30.
- "Trampoline - Family 1-t". Thoroughbred Bloodlines.
- "Irish Times Irish EBF Maiden result". Racing Post. 27 August 2017.
- "Beresford Stakes result". Racing Post. 24 September 2017.
- "Racing Post Trophy result". Racing Post. 28 October 2017.
- Cook, Chris (28 October 2017). "Aidan O'Brien hits record 26th Group One win of year with Saxon Warrior". The Guardian.
- "Aidan O'Brien 2018 Stable Tour: "Massive" Saxon Warrior heading straight for 2000 Guineas". Racing UK. 22 March 2018.
- "2000 Guineas result". Racing Post. 5 May 2018.
- "2,000 Guineas: Saxon Warrior wins at Newmarket for Aidan O'Brien". BBC Sport. 5 May 2018.
- Press Association staff (5 May 2018). "Saxon Warrior takes 2,000 Guineas for Aidan O'Brien". The Guardian.
- "European-2yo-Classification" (PDF). britishhorseracing.com.
- Career 1-2-3 Colour Chart – Saxon Warrior