Unfortunately, the Coral-Eclipse lost some of its allure as pre-race favourite Masar was an eleventh-hour absentee due to a swollen leg following his last piece of work. Even though we were deprived of seeing the Derby winner strut his stuff, Sandown’s showpiece was a real thriller.
John Gosden’s Roaring Lion was sent off as the hot favourite in the absence of Masar with many punters supporting both Gosden’s Lion as much as the three lions in the World Cup. Aidan O’Brien had other ideas, however, as he pitched 2000 Guineas winner Saxon Warrior at the race only seven days on from the Irish Derby.
In the race itself, Hawkbill set the early fractions under William Buick as the leading fancies stalked the leader. Oisin Murphy got shuffled back on Roaring Lion as the field started turning for home but the Irish native kept a cool head to gradually bring the lion roaring past all his rivals to give Murphy a first domestic Group 1 victory.
Roaring Lion did show he’s usually wayward tendency to hang in the closing stages which meant that he had to survive a 15-minute stewards enquiry as Donnacadh O’Brien pleaded his case to get the result amended.
Gosden said afterwards:
“He rode him beautifully and very coolly. He got too far back, he knew that, and he didn’t hurry to get back. It was a very good ride and I’m thrilled”.
It was a red letter day in the training career of Julie Camacho as Judicial gave her a first Group success in the Coral Charge at Sandown. The consistent six-year-old seems to just keep improving and is definitely one to follow for the rest of the season.
Haydock played host to the Lancashire Oaks and Old Newton Cup on Saturday where for the third time in six years Mark Johnston trained the winner of the Old Newton Cup. Rainbow Rebel got up on the line under Joe Fanning to beat Crowned Eagle by a neck margin. Everybody knows that Mark Johnston isn’t afraid to run his horses often and this was incredibly Rainbow Rebel’s fourteenth run of the year.
Andrew Balding claimed the accolades in the Lancashire Oaks where Horseplay proved too good for Luca Cumani’s God Given. Having always raced prominently under David Probert, Horseplay made her challenge inside the final furlong and stayed on well to beat God Given by a short head.
Probert waxed lyrical afterwards saying:
“She’s a very solid filly, she won the Pretty Polly in impressive style last year and was quite an exciting prospect. She’s shown what talent she’s got today”.
There was some very exciting racing from the States on Saturday night, where Aidan O’Brien sent a battalion of runners to Belmont along with the much revered Ryan Moore. It was a mixed day for O’Brien as Athena won the Belmont Oaks cosily but Mendelssohn was a disappointing third in the Grade 3 Dwyer Stakes.
Athena’s two and a half-length victory in the Belmont Oaks was all the more astonishing considering she ran in the Pretty Polly at the Curragh only six days previously. In fact, this was Athena’s third run in three different countries in 16 days, which is incredible.
Ryan Moore said:
“She’s taken her racing very well. I rode her before the start of the year and all she’s done is improve tremendously”.
Mendelssohn once again ran poorly on American soil in the Dwyer Stakes where he was comprehensively beaten by runaway winner Firenze Fire. The Breeders’ Cup has been the long-term target for the 18 length winner of the UAE Derby but these plans may have to be shelved if he doesn’t improve.
Markus King trained Welstar to emerge triumphant in the German Derby at Hamburg on Sunday under a strong Andre De Vries ride. Welstar confirmed superiority over Destino, as the pair had previously clashed in a Group 2 at Cologne. This was a great result for stallion Soldier Hollow as the sired both the winner and runner-up.