Master Irish trainer John Oxx has never had any doubt that his Saddler’s Rock is a high-class stayer. His opinion was well and truly vindicated when the Johnny Murtagh-ridden colt galloped away to win the Group 3 Artemis Goodwood Cup in fine style on the third day of the ‘Glorious’ meeting.
Last term the four-year-old defied several horseracing tips to win three of his last four outings, graduating from victory in a Tipperary maiden to a handicap success off a mark of 87 at Leopardstown before slamming Opinion Poll by four lengths to win the Group 2 Stobart Doncaster Cup in tremendous fashion, a win that trumpeted his trainer’s claim that he had a seriously good stayer on his hands.
A horse who has always needed a decent surface to produce his best form, the son of the late, great Saddler’s Wells ran well in the circumstances when beaten just half a length on heavy ground on his first outing of this campaign at Leopardstown in June and was then strongly fancied to go close in the Group 1 Ascot Gold Cup at the royal meeting a couple of weeks later.
Things just didn’t fall right for the Murtagh-ridden colt who never quite got the run of the race but was doing all his best work at the finish in coming home a three-quarters-of-a-length third behind Godolphin’s Colour Vision.
On better ground at Goodwood this week and always in the ideal stalking position, Saddler’s Rock swept into the lead well over a furlong from home and stayed on willingly to beat the fast-finishing Askar Tau by a length, setting up the likely sequence of the Londsdale Stakes at York later this month followed by a defence of his Doncaster Cup title on Town Moor in September, then a possibly run in France in the Group 1 Prix du Cadran at Longchamp’s premier October fixture.
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