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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 23 June 2018

Godolphin trainer Charlie Appleby has high hopes for Masar in Epson Derby

Hawkbill carries the Dubai racing operation's hopes in the Coronation Cup followed by Wild Illusion in the Oaks, both on Friday

Godolphin are chasing three Group 1 prizes at Epsom Downs Racecourse in England over the next two days.

Hawkbill carries the Dubai racing operation's hopes in the Coronation Cup followed by Wild Illusion in the Oaks, both on Friday, and Masar in Saturday’s Derby.

Masar is drawn in Gate 10, the race's most successful gate with nine winners since starting stalls were introduced in the Classic in 1967.

The Godolphin trainer Charlie Appleby was upbeat on Masar’s chances after the draw. The three-year-old chestnut colt was an excellent third behind Saxon Warrior and Tip To Win in the 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket last month.

“He came out of the race well, and that Guineas form is solid,” Appleby was quoted on the Godolphin website.

“I still believe it to be the best ‘trial’ for the Derby this season, and of course, the winner Saxon Warrior is the one we all have to beat.”

Appleby said Masar had returned to him more mature after his travels to the United States and Dubai.

“He’s grown up a lot,” he added. “I think he has the right mind to go to Epsom. As we all know, it’s a big stage there and it can be a challenge to a lot of horses.

“But what I’ve seen in Masar of late is a colt who is much more grown up. He is taking all the preliminaries well.

“If he conducts himself at Epsom as he did at Newmarket, it is going to be a big plus. On pedigree, he should stay, and he is now mentally where you would like a horse who is stepping up in trip to be. He’s very relaxed in his work.

“Hopefully, this will give William [Buick - the jockey] every chance of settling him early and ensure he gets the trip.

“He’s a very well balanced horse, and he learnt plenty on those right bends at Del Mar [in the Group 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile] last November.”

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Saxon Warrior, the choice of jockey Ryan Moore, is undefeated in four starts and bids to give his trainer Aidan O’Brien a record-equalling seventh English Derby.

He is drawn in Gate 1, which is perceived to be disadvantageous due to an early right-hand bend over left-handed Epsom.

O'Brien has five entered and the other four are drawn high, with Delano Roosevelt in Gate 4, Zabriskie in eight, with The Pentagon and Kew Gardens drawn right on the outside in 11 and 12 respectively.

Others challengers are the Dante winner Roaring Lion, Derrinstown winner Hazapour and Chester Vase winner Young Rascal.

Buick is confident both Wild Illusion and Hawkbill have plenty going in their favour ahead of their runs on Friday.

“Wild Illusion ran a lovely race on her comeback in the 1,000 Guineas and is a filly who will appreciate stepping up in trip. Her form is very solid and she’s never done anything wrong.

“Hawkbill seemed better than ever in the Sheema Classic. He is genuine a Group 1 horse who likes the track and stays the trip. And if there is any more rain it won’t harm his chances.”