Roaring Lion Takes Down Saxon Warrior in Irish Champion

Roaring Lion Takes Down Saxon Warrior in Irish Champion14 Sep 2018

Thriller at Leopardstown goes to John Gosden trainee.
The Irish Champion Stakes (G1) was a race billed between two horses—Saxon Warrior and Roaring Lion—and it proved just that, with the John Gosden-trained 8-11 favorite Roaring Lion coming out on top in a thriller.
Ridden by Oisin Murphy, Roaring Lion looked to have plenty to do with two furlongs to run in the group 1 highlight, as Ryan Moore kicked for home on Saxon Warrior.
However, despite Saxon Warrior sticking on gamely, the Newmarket Two Thousand Guineas (G1) hero was just worn down late on by his old foe to be beaten a neck, to the joy of favorite backers, not to mention Sheikh Fahad Al Thani, who with his brothers sponsored the race and owned the winner.
It was the sixth meeting between the first two home, and the score now stands four to two in Roaring Lion's favor. The son of Kitten's Joy was bred in Kentucky by RanJan Racing and was a $160,000 purchase by agent David Redvers from Taylor Made Sales Agency's consignment to the 2016 Keeneland September Yearling Sale.
"I had a lot of belief in the horse, John Gosden, and Oisin," Sheikh Fahad said. "It's tricky when you come to a different country—that's his first time on a plane since he was a baby—so for him to take it in his stride and do that on the racetrack was great to see. It was a special feeling.
"Thank God, we're very lucky. It's a big team effort, and we work hard all year round. The race panned out better for Saxon than us, but his turn of foot to go and get him was breathtaking."
When asked whether Roaring Lion will race next year, Sheikh Fahad added: "Plans haven't been finalized yet. He might stay in training, he might not."
A delighted Murphy said: "I didn't have much experience (at) Leopardstown and was really learning on the job. But I had the right horse, and this win in my home country means the world to me. I wondered how I'd react if we won, and all I can say is that it's a surreal feeling."
He added: "The complexion of the race changed a few times. Saxon Warrior had first run on us, but once my horse balanced out after the bend, I always thought I'd get there."
Roaring Lion's victory was the third win for Gosden in the 10-furlong showpiece in the last six years, following The Fugue (2013) and Golden Horn(2015).
He was shortened to a best-priced 9-4 (from 3-1) for the Oct. 20 QIPCO Champion Stakes (G1) at Ascot on the back of his narrow victory, and Gosden's son Thady mentioned that race as a possible target.
Connections, however, have also previously said that the Breeders' Cup Turf (G1T) over a mile and a half will be given consideration, and the way that Roaring Lion has been finishing his races over a mile and a quarter certainly suggests he could cope with a step back up in trip at Churchill Downs in November. The Irish Champion is a Breeders' Cup Challenge "Win and You're In" event for the Breeders' Cup Turf, a race Roaring Lion already qualified for when he won the Aug. 22 Juddmonte International (G1) at York.
Trainer Aidan O'Brien said of Saxon Warrior: "He has run a very good race. We knew he had come on since York.
"The plan before today was to drop him back to a mile in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes (G1), and I'd imagine that is what we'll do if everything is OK with the horse."
-By Tony O'Hehir/Racing Post