- Sire-Dam -
Roaring Lion, a son of American-based stallion Kitten’s Joy, has certainly done his best to live up to his name. Rivals trying to tame him have, by and large, foun it an unequal struggle.
In the second half of 2018 he has been enthralling – achieving successive wins in the Coral Eclipse, Juddmonte International Stakes, QIPCO Irish Champion Stakes and QIPCO-sponsored Queen Elizabeth II Stakes.
Nobody could argue his exciting neck defeat of Saxon Warrior, a familiar foe, under regular rider Oisin Murphy in the Coral-Eclipse Stakes at Sandown was not deserved.
His previous performances in Group 1 company had consisted of a neck defeat, by Saxon Warriorxcdtssx, in the Racing Post Trophy; a close fifth in the QIPCO 2000 Guineas, behind the same rival, and an excellent third in the Investec Derby.
It would be wrong to say he is not effective at a mile and a half – you do not finish a two-length third in any Derby without getting the trip – but he had previously been an emphatic winner of the Dante Stakes over ten furlongs and his Eclipse triumph – when swooping from off the pace after getting shuffled back early on – confirmed a mile and a quarter is his optimum.
“Roaring Lion is growing up a lot and he’s still improving, and he stayed straight as an arrow today,” John Gosden, his trainer, said after the Derby. “Take nothing from the winner, we were following him, but he outstayed us. Our horse really is a mile and a quarter horse.”
David Redvers, Racing and Bloodstock Manager for owners Qatar Racing, said: “He does us proud, my heart is still a flutter. To see a horse travel that well in a field like that, we always had a doubt that this would be a step too far and in this ground and it has been proven thus. We’re goíng to have a fun summer though.”
That “fun summer” rolled on and on until deep into the autumn, even though his connections had to suffer a lengthy stewards’ enquiry before he was confirmed the winner on the first occasion at Sandown. He hung right late on but nobody had any doubt the best horse had won.
“I was on the best horse in the race and I just had to get it right and not get there too soon,” Murphy said.
There were no such alarms in the Juddmonte International. Roaring Lion was faced by six other Group 1 winners but won with tremendous authority by three and a quarter lengths from Poet’s Word, who had won the Prince of Wales’s Stakes and QIPCO-sponsored King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes on his previous two starts.
“He battled to win the Eclipse and he’s a much better horse today than he was that day,” Gosden said. “He’s a proper horse who has got bigger and stronger as the year has gone on.
“He’s a mile-and-a-quarter horse through and through and I’d have been very disappointed if he hadn’t run like that today. The QIPCO Irish Champion is an obvious possibility, as is Ascot [QIPCO Champion Stakes].
“I would run him on good to soft ground, but I wouldn’t want to run him on soft – that is the only proviso I have. He has a beautiful action.”
He was no less impressive, in different circumstances, when beating old rival Saxon Warrior by a neck – again – in the Irish Champion Stakes. His electric turn of foot enabled him to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.
Roaring Lion was then aimed at the QIPCO Champion Stakes, only to be switched to the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes because of the rain-softened ground.
Underfoot conditions, the drop in trip and a wide draw were all concerns but Roaring Lion rolled up his sleeves and showed great determination to beat I Can Fly by a neck in a tremendous finish.
Roaring Lion also won the Group 2 Royal Lodge Stakes as a juvenile and the $160,000 paid for him as a yearling has proved a tremendous bit of business.
He is the first foal of Vionett, another American performer who was successful at up to an extended mile.
BCS Career statistics
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