Roaring Lion, a top priced 9/4 second-favourite with Coral for their eagerly anticipated Group 1 Coral Eclipse Stakes at Sandown on Saturday, is reported in fine shape as he bids to secure a first success at the highest level.
John Gosden’s grey has run a series of good races this term, leaving behind a lacklustre nine-length third to subsequent Derby winner Masar when odds-on for the Group 3 Craven Stakes at Newmarket in April, by finishing a close fifth to Saxon Warrior in the Qipco 2000 Guineas in which Masar came third. Stepped up to a mile-and-a-quarter for the first time in York’s Group 2 Dante Stakes a few weeks later, the son of Mastercraftsman was an impressive winner, and went on to run a fine race in the Investec Derby on his first attempt at a mile-and-a-half when third to old rival Masar, having looked a big danger approaching the final furlong.
Back at what appears to be his optimum distance of 10 furlongs, Roaring Lion is expected to give Masar – currently the 11/8 favourite with Betfair – plenty to think about as the pair clash for the fourth time this season and take on older horses for the first time in their respective careers.
“The weight-for-age is huge and obviously [Aidan O’Brien’s filly] Happily would get the sex allowance on top of that,” Murphy reasoned on At The Races. “It’s exciting. I’m very fortunate to partner horses like Roaring Lion and I want to make the most of it. Sheikh Fahad is one of the biggest owners in the world, he deserves success like this, and I want to give it to him.”
Narrowly beaten last term in the Group 1 Racing Post Trophy over a mile at the hands of subsequent Classic winner Saxon Warrior in what proved to be one of the races of the season, Gosden’s charge reportedly worked nicely on the July course at Newmarket this week and connections appear increasingly optimistic that he will run a very big race this weekend.
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.