Roaring Lion won the Irish Champions Stakes with a brilliant performance to beat out his rival Saxon Warrior to claim the crown. John Gosden will now turn the attention of his charge to the British Champion Stakes to end the season on the highest of notes at Ascot.
It has been a campaign of two halves as the American horse struggled in the early stages of the term, but has come to life to become the dominant competitor over ten furlongs. Cracksman, Enable and Crystal Ocean will be vying to knock the grey colt out of the winners’ circle. However, Roaring Lion has rightfully been established as the leading contender for the title for the October 20th meet. As a result, Gosden’s charge should be the horse to back in the William Hill horse racing tips at 2/1 given his dominance over the second half of the season.
Roaring Lion began the term at the Craven Stakes at Newmarket, but failed to live up to expectations after being considered the favourite for the event. The American horse could not cope with the pace of Masar, finishing nine lengths behind the eventual winner of the meet, while he was beaten on the line for second place by White Mocha, capping an underwhelming outing. Life did not improve for Roaring Lion in his next appearance at Newmarket in the 2,000 Guineas. He struggled from the off to match the speed of the leading group led by Saxon Warrior. Gosden’s charge placed in fifth, highlighting how far he had to go to become an elite competitor.
Oisin Murphy was able to lead the horse to his first victory of the campaign at York in the Dante Stakes. The three-year-old kept pace with the leading group before making his charge one furlong out to win by a comfortable margin – four-and-a-half lengths ahead of his nearest rival. Roaring Lion was one of the leading contenders for The Derby due to the dominance of his performance, and although he was able to finish ahead of Saxon Warrior, it was only good enough for a third-place display as Masar claimed the crown.
Roaring Lion’s next outing would be more successful at The Eclipse. This time Murphy was able to get a fine performance out of the three-year-old. He timed his surge to perfection down the stretch pulling ahead of the field in the final furlong. Saxon Warrior made the challenge, but the American horse had enough to see off the threat to clinch the win by a neck. Gosden’s charge built on his triumph by claiming another title on his return to York. Poet’s Word was the favourite for the event, but the grey colt was able to dominate him and the rest of the field, finishing three-and-a-quarter lengths ahead of the Irish horse.
The three-year-old’s back-to-back victories saw him installed as the favourite for the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown in his first outing at the venue. Although Roaring Lion got off to a slow start in the contest, he was able to move through the gears to challenge his old foe Saxon Warrior down the final furlong. The two horses battled out for the victory on the straight, and it was Gosden’s charge that emerged with the win, beating out his rival by the narrowest margins. It would be prudent to back him once again to make it four on the bounce to end the campaign as Saxon Warrior was forced into retirement at the end of their duel.