Appleby not fazed by drop in trip for his classy Masar
THREE of the first four home in the Investec Derby renew rivalry in what promises to be a fascinating renewal of the Coral Eclipse.
The 10-furlong showpiece traditionally gives middle-distance three-yearolds a first opportunity to test their powers against their elders and this year’s renewal is no exception.
Charlie Appleby’s Masar claimed Derby glory at Epsom a month ago, beating John Gosden’s Roaring Lion into third and Aidan O’Brien’s red-hot favourite Saxon Warrior into fourth.
With Saxon Warrior surprisingly sent into battle again just seven days after finishing third in the Irish Derby, the trio will cross swords once more in the Sandown sunshine.
Appleby, who also saddles 2016 Eclipse hero Hawkbill, said: “We’re very pleased with both our horses. Their preparation has gone well and we’re looking forward to what should be great race.
“Masar seems in great form. I don’t think being drawn in stall one is going to a problem, as it looks like there’s enough pace in the race.”
Masar had the option of running in the Irish Derby, but instead drops in distance for what will be a third clash of the season with Saxon Warrior, having finished third behind the Ballydoyle inmate in the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket.
Appleby added: “The Irish Derby was there, but coming back in trip was never going to be a worry.
“One thing William (Buick) said after the Guineas was that he felt like a 10-furlong horse against milers.
“I go in there very confident with the horse that we’ve got and he has got form around there.
“I don’t think you can get a nicer profile going into any Group One race, whether it be a mile and a quarter or a mile and a half.”
Hawkbill will be a big price to regain his crown, but Appleby feels he should not be dismissed lightly and insists he is not running purely as a pacemaker for his better-fancied stablemate.
“He’s a previous winner of the race and he’s there genuinely on his merits,” said the Newmarket handler.
“People will say he’s only there for a pace angle, but if something else wants to go on we’re quite happy to take a lead with Hawkbill.
“Having said that, if there isn’t much pace on we know what Hawkbill is good at, so we’ll see.
“He’s in good order and if he’s on his A-game I think he’ll test the threeyear-olds, which is what it’s all about.”
Roaring Lion has finished behind Masar in the Craven Stakes, the 2000 Guineas and the Derby this season.
However, on his only start to date over a mile and a quarter he ran out an impressive four-and-a-half length winner of the Dante Stakes at York.
Gosden said: “He (Masar) is a legitimate favourite. He has won a Craven and it is not like he needs a mile and a half.
“He ran great in the Guineas. I think the Guineas is the best form, so to that extent we’ve got it all to do, but we know a mile and a quarter on top of the ground suits us.”
Suprise entry: Saxon Warrior