It will take a good one to lower the colours of John Gosden’s high-class Roaring Lion in tomorrow’s Group 1 QIPCO Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown (6.35) in what promises to be a memorable renewal of the top-class 10 furlong contest.
The grey son of Kitten’s Joy will face seven rivals as he sets off in pursuit of the massive first prize in a race worth no less than €1,250,000. Old rival Saxon Warrior, (the 2000 Guineas winner), who he beat a neck to land the Eclipse Stakes at Sandown then comprehensively outpointed by five lengths into fourth in the Juddmonte International Stakes at York last month.
Saxon Warrior will lead a four-pronged Ballydoyle challenge that also includes Rhododendron, Deauville, and Athena. French Derby winner Study Of Man, the smart Addeybb, and Jim Bolger’s lightly raced but highly regarded Verbal Dexterity make up the eight-runner field.
“It’s another Group One and they tell me he has been in very good form since York,” reported Murphy of his big-race mount. “I’m looking forward to riding him. I think on figures and everything, York was better than Sandown. He has plenty of experience at the top level, so hopefully he can put that to good use again. On ratings he has improved every time he has run in 2018..
“Nobody is going to run the race to set it up for Roaring Lion, and certainly Saxon Warrior is Aidan O’Brien’s main protagonist. I’m drawn a bit away from him, but until I sit down and go through it with John [Gosden] and Sheikh Fahad [owner], we won’t decide how to ride it yet.”
“We’ve been happy with Saxon Warrior since York,” O’Brien told reporters earlier this week. “He was just ready to run back in York and we’ve been happy with him since then. He was very sick after Sandown and we always felt that he would progress after his run at York.”
Written by Paul Alster
Paul Alster has been part of the British and international racing media for more than three decades working as a race commentator, TV/radio presenter, journalist, betting correspondent, SP returner, and form analyst. He’s always sought out overpriced runners in handicap races, a quest that excites him as much now as it did at the start of his career.