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Horse Racing: Saxon Warrior looks to have a battle on his hands

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SAXON Warrior became almost everyone's idea of the 2018 Investec Derby winner with an imperious performance in the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket earlier this month, but serious contenders for the world's greatest Flat race are emerging.

Young Rascal, a general 10/1 shot with the bookies, is definitely one of those and he stretched his legs over seven furlongs in the sunshine at Epsoms Breakfast With The Stars event on Tuesday morning.

William Haggas felt it was important to give his Chester Vase winner a feel of the unique track.

"I wanted this horse to come and look at the place. It's beautiful ground which gave us a good opportunity to run him on grass and give him a feel of the contours."

Haggas is under no illusions that Saxon Warrior remains the one to beat, though.

"Everyone in the country was impressed with Saxon Warrior [when winning the Guineas]. He did it at two, he's got lots of experience and plenty of stamina, so he's the obvious horse but you can never be frightened of one."

Roaring Lion, Ladbrokes 6/1 second favourite, is also bang in contention after romping home in the Dante at York last week and John Gosden confirmed the grey son of Kitten's Joy is on course for the Classic.

"He's in splendid form and the owners are keen for him to go to the Derby, so that's exactly where he's going and I think that's the right choice."

Questioned on Roaring Lion's stamina, Gosden replied: "You don't normally win a Derby by simply outstaying them. You need a high cruising speed with a turn of foot and this horse has it.

“Does he stay 1m4f? I don't know. He's very athletic and I've always longed to race him over middle distances."

Aidan O'Brien still appears to hold all the aces in this year's race, though, and he confirmed a possible six runners.

Nelson and Zabriskie could be added to his likely quartet of Saxon Warrior, The Pentagon, Delano Roosevelt and Kew Gardens.

"They're the horses that have come through their trials well and it looks so far so good with them all."

Meanwhile, he admitted stable jockey Ryan Moore will have a tough decision to make as to who he'll ride in the Investec Oaks.

Bye Bye Baby, Forever Together, Magic Wand, I Can Fly and Magical were all confirmed as possible runners for a week on Friday, although Happily will not run.

The other star on show at the Epsom breakfast was Clive Cox's Perfect Clarity.

She galloped over seven furlongs and her trainer clearly felt it was beneficial for a filly he holds in high regard.

"She's had a really pleasing day out and that's exactly what we wanted. She's got a lot of ticks in a lot of boxes and is definitely the best middle-distance filly that I've ever had anything to do with."

Grandstand tickets for the two-day Investec Derby Festival are still available and can be bought at www.epsomderby.co.uk.

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