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3yo Roaring Lion colt Middle Earth, bred and raised at Tweenhills, continued his rapid improvement when winning the very competitive Sky Bet Melrose Handicap on Ebor day at York on Saturday. He could now be a Gr.1 St Leger contender for Qatar Racing though would need to be supplemented for £50,000.

Middle Earth only began his racing career on June 17 and won his novice at Newmarket’s July Course on July 28. Middle Earth had turned over subsequent winner Naqeeb there so lined up for the 13-runner Melrose as 9/2 joint-favourite with Lordship, who was chasing a four-timer.

Middle Earth made his opening handicap mark of 93 look very lenient as he came from near the back of the field to win by 1¾ lengths under Oisin Murphy. Runner-up Denmark was 3¼ lengths clear of another Roaring Lion colt in Fox Journey and Lordship. Middle Earth was running over 14f for the first time but relished the distance and may even stay further in time.

John Gosden told the press: “He’s a grand horse. He’s a big boy so he’s taken his time, but he’s done nothing but improve as a 3yo.

“After he won, a few people were trying to buy him but luckily Sheikh Fahad and David (Redvers, Qatar Racing’s racing manager) thought they’d give him more of a chance.

“He’s won a Melrose well. The St Leger closed before he won so I think from that point of view he will be considered for supplementing.”

Middle Earth (Oisin Murphy) winning the Melrose Handicap at York

Middle Earth is yet another smart middle-distance performer from the only crop left behind by Roaring Lion. Middle Earth is a year-younger half-brother of dual Stakes winner Buckaroo and other winners Kihavah and Thousand Oaks.

Middle Earth’s dam Roheryn won a Listed race for Qatar Racing and is by Galileo out of dual 6f Gr.3 winner La Chunga. Roheryn's 2yo is a Siyouni filly called Siege of Troy in training with Johnny Murtagh.

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