2018 Cartier Horse of The Year, Roaring Lion, who covered his first mares at Tweenhills this year, is recovering from colic surgery at Cambridge Stud in New Zealand.
After being released from quarantine at 6am on Saturday morning, Roaring Lion had spent 15 minutes in his paddock when symptoms of colic were identified by his regular groom Reece Sutcliffe and the team at Cambridge.
The son of Kitten's Joy was transferred to Cambridge Equine Hospital immediately and underwent emergency surgery. He was in recovery by mid-afternoon.
Cambridge Stud CEO Henry Plumptre said: “We want to act in the best interests of Sheikh Fahad and our shareholders. Following major surgery, we feel it's appropriate to withdraw the horse from service with all shareholders being fully refunded.
“Our best-case scenario is that Roaring Lion makes a full recovery and can be returned safely to the UK. While everyone at Cambridge Stud is shattered, we feel the obligation to Sheikh Fahad, David Redvers and our shareholders is important.
“It's a massive blow to lose Roaring Lion like this, but his ongoing welfare is now our prime concern.”
Veterinary advice as of 11am on Sunday New Zealand time [midnight on Sunday BST] was that Roaring Lion had made a favourable recovery in the first 24 hours post-surgery.
Qatar Racing's racing manager David Redvers, who jumped on the first flight to New Zealand at 10pm on Saturday, told Racing TV's Luck On Sunday programme:
"I had a fairly upbeat report from the Plumptres, which was heartening. The critical time is obviously the first 48 hours after an operation like this. He had a small intestine colic – it was a very rare case, a freak event really – and without going into too many specifics, the reason he’s alive now is because they spotted it immediately.
"Normally with a small intestine, the horse is dead very quickly if it’s not operated on immediately because you can’t very successfully reset - i.e. cut out - sections of the small intestine. Because they were able to get him in and get the very best care, they had the best experts in colic surgery from both the major practices in Cambridge on site working on the horse.
"They’ve managed to untwist the section of gut that was causing the problem, repair a small hole, and flush everything through.
"As long as it all still works, which we won’t really discover for 48 hours – we’re 24 hours in now – then we’re hopeful. Obviously if he colics again I’m afraid the news will be very bad. So we’re all on tenterhooks.
"It’s obviously tough for everybody, it just reminds us all that horses are living creatures and it reminds me particularly of the pain stable staff must feel when they lose their loved and cherished horses."
Cambridge Stud has ruled Roaring Lion out of covering mares during the southern hemisphere season.
The news comes as another huge blow to Qatar Racing after we lost Just The Judge to colic in April.