With a furlong to go in Saturday’s Racing Post Trophy (G1) at Doncaster, it appeared trainer Aidan O’Brien‘s quest for a record 26th Grade/Group 1 victory of the season would have to wait at least another 24 hours.
It didn’t take long for those fortunes to change as 13-8 favorite Saxon Warrior valiantly fought back to re-claim the lead from Roaring Lion and pull out a neck victory over a straight mile.
O’Brien, who had tied the late Bobby Frankel’s record of 25 Grade/Group 1 wins, set in 2003, last Saturday at Ascot when Hydrangea captured the British Champions Fillies & Mares (G1), will have an opportunity to pad that record in France on Sunday and further afield in the Breeders’ Cup, Australia and Hong Kong later this year.
“I’m delighted and delighted for everybody,” O’Brien told ITV Racing. “There’s a lot of hard work put in by a lot of people in Ballydoyle and Coolmore.
“It’s unbelievable really. There are so many people who put in so much hard work day in, day out. If I start mentioning people, I’d forget somebody. They know who they are.
“It’s a privilege to be working with such special people. We’re in a very lucky position and we’re a small link in a big chain.”
Ryan Moore, aboard Saxon Warrior, told the Press Association: “Aidan will be breaking records for a long time yet. I’m very lucky, I’ve worked with the best, but there’s no doubt Aidan is extraordinary.”
Saxon Warrior, a son of Deep Impact who’s now undefeated in three starts, might yet live up to that adjective as well. In a battle he appeared to be winning with second choice Verbal Dexterity two furlongs out, the Japanese-bred was soon overtaken by Roaring Lion, who swooshed to the lead with a sustained rally from the back.
However, after leaning left into Saxon Warrior under right-handed urging, Roaring Lion lost momentum and it was Saxon Warrior who roared back on the inside to win the duel in a game effort. The O’Brien-trained The Pentagon was 2 1/2 lengths behind in third. The final time on good-to-soft going was 1:40.12.
Owned by Mrs. Derek Smith, Mrs. John Magnier, and Michael Tabor, Saxon Warrior won on debut at The Curragh by 3 1/4 lengths on August 27 and followed up with a 2 1/2-length tally in the September 24 Beresford (G2) at Naas. All three of his career outings have been at one mile.
Saxon Warrior is out of champion juvenile filly Maybe, who captured the Moyglare Stud (G1) at two and later placed in the 1000 Guineas (G1).
In addition Saxon Warrior, O’Brien’s other Group 1 tallies this season have been with Churchill (2000 Guineas, Irish 2000 Guineas), Winter (1000 Guineas, Irish 1000 Guineas, Coronation, Nassau), Wings Of Eagles (Derby at Epsom), Capri (Irish Derby, St Leger), Highland Reel (Coronation Cup, Prince of Wales’s), Caravaggio (Commonwealth Cup), Roly Poly (Falmouth, Prix Rothschild, Sun Chariot), Hydrangea (Matron, British Champions Fillies & Mares), Rhododendron (Prix de l’Opera), Order of St George (Irish St Leger), and two-year-olds Sioux Nation (Phoenix), Happily (Moyglare Stud, Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere), Clemmie (Cheveley Park), and U S Navy Flag (Middle Park, Dewhurst).