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Champions Series stars to stud: Saxon Warrior

10 Dec 2018

In the latest of our weekly series, we turn our attention to the QIPCO 2000 Guineas winner

Saxon Warrior

Saxon Warrior was a superb QIPCO 2000 Guineas winner but came up short in the Investec Derby.


Races: 9. Wins 4. Champions Series Wins 1. Prize money: £1,112,467.

For a time there was excited talk of Saxon Warrior, a son of Japanese champion Deep Impact out of a Galileo mare, becoming the first winner of Triple Crown since Nijinsky in 1970.

He ended 2017 unbeaten in three starts and his game neck defeat of Roaring Lion in the Group 1 Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster in the autumn confirmed himself among the best juveniles in training. It was a landmark triumph as it provided Aidan O’Brien, his trainer, with his record-breaking 26th Group 1 winner of the year.

In the build-up to the Guineas, O’Brien issued several positive bulletins about how Saxon Warrior had progressed physically. And when the imposing bay colt won readily from a strong field the sky looked the limit.

He beat race fit rivals such as Masar and Roaring Lion with conviction at Headquarters and his pedigree pointed to him being even more effective over middle distances.

But there are few, if any certainties in racing, and surprisingly five subsequent starts failed to yield another success. On most occasions he was upstaged. By Roaring Lion – more of him another day.

He went off 4/5 favourite to win the second leg of the Triple Crown, the Investec Derby, but Saxon Warrior had a tricky drawn I stall No 1 to overcome and, while it did not make the difference between victory and defeat, he came up short at Epsom.

The writing was on the wall some way out and he ended up finishing fourth, beaten an aggregate of four and a half lengths. Masar took the glory and Roaring Lion also finished ahead of him.

He was sent off Evens to make amends in the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby. Saxon Warrior kept on to finish a close third but, again, most had expected more with Masar and Roaring Lion not among the opposition.

Just a week later he ran in the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown and he looked the most likely winner when he led a furlong out, only to be overhauled late on by Roaring Lion and beaten a neck. There was a lengthy stewards’ enquiry – the winner had carried Saxon Warrior right late on – but the result was allowed to stand.

Saxon Warrior and Roaring Lion met again – for a fifth time – in the Juddmonte International at York the following month. The latter was a decisive winner, with Saxon Warrior, who had apparently been under the weather in the interim, a one-paced fourth.

The pair clashed for a sixth and final time in the QIPCO Irish Champion Stakes.

It was a compelling encounter, with Saxon Warrior bursting clear only for Roaring Lion to peg him back near the finish and win by a neck. Saxon Warrior hung in the final stages and the following day his connections revealed he had suffered a tendon injury and had been retired.

The intention had been for him to drop back to a mile for the QIPCO-sponsored Queen Elizabeth II Stakes on Champions Day but injury denied him the opportunity.


Without question it was his QIPCO 2000 Guineas triumph at Newmarket on his return to action in 2018.

Days beforehand he had been available at 5/1 with Gustav Klimt, his stablemate, preferred in the betting. However, on the day he went off a well-backed 3/1 second favourite, with Masar, the runaway Craven winner, the 5/2 market leader.

Gustav Klimt, who had won well on his return, was 4/1 and the unbeaten Elarqam, a son of Frankel, was a well-fancied 5/1. Expert Eye (12/1) and Roaring Lion (14/1) also had their supporters.

Murillo, a stablemate of Saxon Warrior and Gustav Klimt, set an honest gallop pursued closely by Cardsharp. Masar, Saxon Warrior and Elarqam were among those who raced prominently.

The pivotal point came when Saxon Warrior quickened to the front two out under Donnacha O’Brien. From then on, the combination never looked like being caught (Ryan Moore was riding in America) and at the line they had a length and a half to spare the unconsidered Over Tip Two Win (50/1), with Masar another head back in third.


“He travelled beautiful and I thought we were the winner the whole way. I probably got a bit excited at the two pole when I gave him a squeeze a bit early.

“He’s an absolute monster of a horse so you never know, he could improve again. I was very impressed, I thought he was a very good horse even on his homework, we’ve made no secret of it, and I think he’s very, very good.”

Donnacha O’Brien after steering Saxon Warrior to victory in the QIPCO 2000 Guineas

“I wouldn’t be making excuses for Saxon Warrior. We’ll take him home and see how he is. He might have just got in awe of everything, but I wouldn’t take anything away from the winner – he just didn’t fire.”

Aidan O’Brien after defeat in the Investec Derby


Saxon Warrior will stand at Coolmore, with his initial covering fee set at 30,000 euros.


If we were to make one prediction, it would be that Saxon Warrior the potential to produce quick learners with bundles of ability.

He was 3/3 as a two-year-old, signing off with a Group 1 triumph. And his dam, Maybe, a daughter of Galileo, was 5/5 as a two-year-old, also winning at the highest level as a juvenile.

She failed to win in four starts as a three-year-old.

Saxon Warrior seemed effective on all ground, with his best efforts being at up to a mile and a quarter. The same could also be said of Maybe.

That’s not to say that he won’t get winners over a mile and a half or more granted the right liaisons, especially with Deep Impact and Galileo prominent in his pedigree.

Also, his second dam is the Listed winner Sumora, by Danehill, herself a three-parts sister to Oaks winner Dancing Rain.