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Roaring Lion and Cracksman remain on course to clash in the QIPCO Champion Stakes

3 Oct 2018

Last year's Champion set to take on young pretender in epic clash on Champions Day

The QIPCO Champion Stakes is the last of the 35 races in the QIPCO British Champions Series and seems certain to provide a fitting finale with the star trio of Roaring Lion, Cracksman and Enable – all trained by John Gosden – among 24 left in the showpiece. Fourteen of those have won at least Group 1 race.

Cracksman evoked memories of his sire, Frankel, when a breathtaking seven-length winner of the race last year and has added two more Group 1 victories to his CV this term – the Prix Ganay at ParisLongchamp and Investec Coronation Cup at Epsom. On his other start this term, he chased home Poet’s Word in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot.

Roaring Lion has gone from strength to strength this year and has shown a mile and a quarter to be his optimum trip on his past three starts – reeling off successive Group 1 wins in the Coral-Eclipse, Juddmonte International Stakes and QIPCO Irish Champion Stakes.

The grey, owned by Qatar Racing Limited, also won the Group 2 Betfred Dante Stakes at York in May in between finishing fifth in the QIPCO 2000 Guineas and a gallant third in the Investec Derby.

His appetite for racing seems unlimited and David Redvers, racing and bloodstock manager for Qatar Racing, says that, typically, he has taken his latest exertions, when beating Saxon Warrior by a neck in a pulsating QIPCO Irish Champion Stakes, in his stride.

“Roaring Lion has the most remarkable constitution,” Redvers said. “He was charging around the place and wanting more a few days after his win at Leopardstown, which is quite something when you think of the amount of racing he’s had and that he had a pretty tough race.”

Redvers has particular admiration for the way the son of Kitten’s Joy bounced back from finishing a non-staying third in the Investec Derby.

He said: “The Derby can destroy horses. It’s always a real fear running a horse that you’ve got serious stamina doubts about in a race like that because you can leave him there, and you might never get them back afterwards.

“He clearly did not stay at Epsom and there is never a tougher race than when you run beyond your stamina. Anyone into running themselves will tell you there is nothing worse than either being unfit, or being pushed beyond where you can actually physical go. It can leave its mark, but with him he came straight back out and “wallop”, into the Eclipse and he does it again.”

Roaring Lion has also been left in the QIPCO-sponsored Queen Elizabeth II Stakes on QIPCO British Champions Day but he will only revert to a mile if underfoot conditions become testing.

“All along the form men – the clever boys with their sectional times – have said that he’s as good as any of the best milers this year so the QEII will definitely be kept as an option if the ground comes up soft,” Redvers said. “We just want the ground to have good in the description, that would be ideal.”

On the prospect of meeting Cracksman, he added: “He’s last year’s champion and, while it’s not been plain sailing for him this year, it’s coming to his time of his year. To see those two square up would be fascinating, potentially explosive. It’s what QIPCO British Champions Day is all about and what it is there for.”

It has yet to be decided whether Roaring Lion will stay in training next season, or instead start his second vocation as a stallion at Tweenhills in Hartpury, Gloucestershire. Redvers said: “I’m itching to get him at Tweenhills as fast as I can, but that decision will be made by Sheikh Fahad and his brothers. It may be made before QIPCO British Champions Day, on Champions Day, or after the Breeders’ Cup.

“We are making preparations so that if it is decided he is going to come to Tweenhills we are all ready for him. We are building a new stallion box, so everything is getting shipshape for him. He will be in high demand and it’s very exciting from that point of view, but I can’t second guess Sheikh Fahad and his family’s decision.”

Enable is set to defend her Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe crown on Sunday and Gosden has other potential strings to his bow in Without Parole, the St James’s Palace Stakes winner, and Monarchs Glen, absent since winning the Wolferton Stakes at Royal Ascot. Like Cracksman, the pair are sons of Frankel, who signed off his flawless 14-race career by winning the QIPCO Champion Stakes in 2012.

Sir Michael Stoute could be represented by Mirage Dancer and Crystal Ocean. The latter won the Hardwicke Stakes at the Royal Meeting before being touched off by Poet’s Word, his stablemate, in a compelling QIPCO-sponsored King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes. On his latest start he again had to settle for second, finding a concession of 8lb to Enable too much to handle in the 188Bet September Stakes at Kempton.

Laurens, who will seek a fifth Group 1 win in the Kingdom of Bahrain Sun Chariot Stakes at Newmarket on Saturday, remains a possible, while  Aidan O’Brien, yet to savour a QIPCO Champion Stakes success, has left in seven entries.

French-trained challengers to stand their ground include Talismanic, winner of the Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf last year, plus Study Of Man and Patascoy, the one-two in this year’s QIPCO Prix du Jockey Club.

All remaining entries

Animal Age Weight Owner Trainer
Addeybb (IRE) 4 9 5 Sheikh Ahmed Al Maktoum William Haggas
Capri (IRE) 4 9 5 Mr D. Smith, Mrs J. Magnier, Mr M. Tabor Aidan O’Brien
Cracksman (GB) 4 9 5 Mr A. E. Oppenheimer John Gosden
Crystal Ocean (GB) 4 9 5 Sir Evelyn De Rothschild Sir Michael Stoute
Defoe (IRE) 4 9 5 Sheikh Mohammed Obaid Al Maktoum Roger Varian
Maverick Wave (USA) 7 9 5 Godolphin John Gosden
Mirage Dancer (GB) 4 9 5 Mr K. Abdullah Sir Michael Stoute
Monarchs Glen (GB) 4 9 5 Mr K. Abdullah John Gosden
Recoletos (FR) 4 9 5 Sarl Darpat France C. Laffon-Parias
Subway Dancer (IRE) 6 9 5 Bonanza Z. Koplik
Talismanic (GB) 5 9 5 Godolphin S.N.C. A. Fabre
Enable (GB) 4 9 2 Mr K. Abdullah John Gosden
Hydrangea (IRE) 4 9 2 Mr D. Smith, Mrs J. Magnier, Mr M. Tabor Aidan O’Brien
Rhododendron (IRE) 4 9 2 Mrs John Magnier,Mr M.Tabor & Mr D.Smith Aidan O’Brien
Patascoy (FR) 3 9 1 Mr Roberto Cocheteux Tierno X. Thomas Demeaulte
Roaring Lion (USA) 3 9 1 Qatar Racing Limited John Gosden
Study of Man (IRE) 3 9 1 Flaxman Stables Ireland Ltd P. Bary
Verbal Dexterity (IRE) 3 9 1 Mrs J. S. Bolger J. S. Bolger
Without Parole (GB) 3 9 1 John Gunther & Tanya Gunther John Gosden
Athena (IRE) 3 8 12 Mr D. Smith, Mrs J. Magnier, Mr M. Tabor Aidan O’Brien
Happily (IRE) 3 8 12 Mr D. Smith, Mrs J. Magnier, Mr M. Tabor Aidan O’Brien
Laurens (FR) 3 8 12 Mr John Dance K. R. Burke
Magical (IRE) 3 8 12 Mr D. Smith, Mrs J. Magnier, Mr M. Tabor Aidan O’Brien
Magic Wand (IRE) 3 8 12 M Tabor/D Smith/Mrs Magnier/M J Jooste Aidan O’Brien