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Roaring Lion has final word in pulsating QEII

20 Oct 2018

Brilliant grey drops back to mile and makes it four Group One wins in succession

Connections of Roaring Lion savour his Queen Elizabeth II Stakes triumph. Picture:

Roaring Lion reeled off his fourth successive Group One success when staying on strongly to collar I Can Fly in the QIPCO-sponsored £1,156,250 Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot.

Oisin Murphy said the brilliant grey colt, who was dropping back to a mile, did not enjoy the soft ground but he still prevailed by a neck in a gripping contest.

John Gosden, saddling his second winner of the afternoon and repeating last year’s success (with Persuasive), said: “My reaction is that the owners (Qatar Racing) were very game and brave to run because they had everything to lose and nothing to gain.

“Roaring Lion had won all those top flight races at a mile and a quarter on fast ground, and we brought him here today on soft over a mile.

“He has proven his class and his guts to get there, but I think he was hating every second of running on that ground. You could that see from his action and the way he was carrying himself – I would not work him on that ground. He has got the job done and full marks to the horse, the jockey and the owners for being brave enough to run here.

“He probably goes to stud now and what a class horse he is. He has got better and stronger through the year, and has now won a top mile race on ground he probably loathed.”

Murphy, who has enjoyed an extraordinary year, added: “He hated the ground and I was never on the bridle. He was all heart in the finish as I was running on empty through the last furlong, having had to use him between the three and the two just to get him into the race. He was very tough in the finish.

“There was a lot of pressure on today. I was on the best horse in the race on paper and it’s just relief and total joy.”

Sheikh Fahad Al Thani, one of the owners, indicated later that Roaring Lion would be retired at the end of the year but added he may go to the Breeders’ Cup in America next month or the Hong Kong International Races at Sha Tin in December.

Her Majesty The Queen presented the trophy.

David Redvers, who advises Sheikh Fahad, bought Roaring Lion for $160,000 as a yearling, and will stand him at his Tweenhills Stud in Gloucestershire. Redvers said: “That’s my best moment in racing. You saw a brilliant horse and a champion do something he is not meant to do – he wasn’t bred to gallop on such a soft surface and he hated it, but still won.

“This will be the most exciting horse to go to stud for many a year.”

Murphy said: “He hated the ground and was never on the bridle, but he wanted it and showed his resolution and toughness. What a great stallion he will make.”

Ridden by Donnacha O’Brien for his father Aidan, I Can Fly ran on strongly in the closing stages but could not peg back the 2/1 favourite, ridden by Oisin Murphy, who held onto score by a neck.

Donnacha O’Brien said: “She’s run a cracker. Everything went smooth and I’m delighted with her – there’s no excuses.”

Century Dream was a close third and Newmarket-based trainer Simon Crisford said: “I thought at the furlong pole we were going to win – my heart was beating like you can’t imagine. I’m delighted with him; he’s continued to improve.

Stormy Antarctic ran a cracker to be fourth, with Recoletos fifth. Laurens faded to be eighth.