22.10.18

Superstar Roaring Lion completes Gr. 1 four-timer

Qatar Racing's world champion 3-year-old won the Gr. 1 Queen Elizabeth II Stakes on QIPCO Champions Day at Ascot on Saturday...

Roaring Lion went into the QEII with a couple of questions to answer, namely could he win a Gr. 1 over a mile? and would be able to win on soft ground? the answer to both was most certainly "yes!"

Sent off favourite in a field of 13 - after the withdrawal of Happily at the gates - Roaring Lion wasn't helped by racing away from the pace provided by Hey Gaman and Laurens, and as they came past the 3f pole he was being nudged, five lengths off the front.

However, the popular grey started responding to Oisin Murphy's urgings instantly, finding a length and then another until he was upsides leader Century Dream at the furlong marker.

Guts, determination and pure ability got Roaring Lion to the front half a furlong from the line and he stuck his head out to hold off I Can Fly. Further behind were fellow Gr. 1 winners Recoletos, our own Lightning Spear, Laurens and Romanised.

Roaring Lion was, of course, being lined up to run in the Champion Stakes on the same card, but Sheikh Fahad and John Gosden decided the mile race was the more suitable option with the ground soft, and what an inspired decision it proved to be.

As well as to the trainer, huge credit goes to Oisin who produced Roaring Lion to lead at the perfect moment, the jockey as strong as the horse in the finish, winning his ninth Gr. 1 of the year.

"What a horse," said John Gosden after the race, adding: "At no stage was he ever on the bridle and Oisin said he absolutely hated the ground. He's probably a good ground/good to firm ground horse, but he showed his class and so did the jockey.

"Oisin could have panicked at the 2-furlong pole and thrown everything at it, but he kept him balanced, nursed him and got him there."

Oisin himself said: "He hated the ground and was never on the bridle but he wanted it and showed his resolution and toughness.

"It was nip and tuck in the final furlong and my horse had no petrol left, but he stuck his head out and I'm very relieved to get the job done.

"Dropping back to a mile is what initiated him winning."

Discussing the late switch of races, Sheikh Fahad said: "We always knew the ground would be a bit against him but I sat with John Gosden and said, 'We’ve already proved we're the best mile-and-a-quarter horse around, let's try to prove we're the best mile horse around', and he did it.

"It's an amazing feeling and I'm still on cloud nine."

It was simply an amazing day with all the Qatar Racing team present, and a jubilant Sheikh Fahad - who watched the race with Her Majesty The Queen - announced on ITV Racing after the race that Roaring Lion will retire to join the other Qatar Racing stallions at Tweenhills Stud in Gloucestershire ahead of the 2019 breeding season. A stud fee will be announced in due course.