Roaring Lion, the 2/1 favorite, enjoyed his fourth successive top level win since his third in the Investec Derby when coming from an impossible looking position to collar I Can Fly in the £1,156,250 G1 Queen Elizabeth II Stakes [Sponsored By QIPCO], but conditions were far from ideal and it was a close run thing as Oisin Murphy came late on the outside to triumph by a neck.
John Gosden, saddling his second winner of the afternoon and repeating last year's success (with Persuasive), said: “My reaction is that the owners (Qatar Racing) were very game and brave to run because they had everything to lose and nothing to gain.
“Roaring Lion had won all those G1 races at a mile and a quarter on fast ground, and we brought him here today on soft over a mile.
“He has proven his class and his guts to get there, but I think he was hating every second of running on that ground. You could that see from his action and the way he was carrying himself – I would not work him on that ground. He has got the job done and full marks to the horse, the jockey and the owners for being brave enough to run here.
“He probably goes to stud now and what a class horse he is. He has got better and stronger through the year, and has now won a top mile race on ground he probably loathed.”
Murphy, who has enjoyed an extraordinary year, added: “He hated the ground and I was never on the bridle. He was all heart in the finish as I was running on empty through the last furlong, having had to use him between the three and the two just to get him into the race. He was very tough in the finish.
“There was a lot of pressure on today. I was on the best horse in the race on paper and it's just relief and total joy.”
Sheikh Fahad Al Thani, one of the owners, indicated later that Roaring Lion may go to the Breeders' Cup in America next month or the Hong Kong International Races at Sha Tin in December.
Her Majesty The Queen presented the trophy.
Sheikh Fahad Al Thani is a member of the Qatar-based family whose QIPCO business sponsors British Champions Day. Members of Qatar Racing celebrated in style, and their three-year-old colt will make a welcome addition to the stallion ranks when he eventually heads to stud. He is an American-bred horse by the sire Kitten's Joy, and therefore gives breeders of racehorses some fresh blood to tap into.
David Redvers, who advises Sheikh Fahad, bought Roaring Lion for $160,000 as a yearling, and will one day stand him at his Tweenhills Stud in Gloucestershire. Redvers said: “That's my best moment in racing. You saw a brilliant horse and a champion do something he is not meant to do – he wasn't bred to gallop on such a soft surface and he hated it, but still won.
“This will be the most exciting horse to go to stud for many a year. It was marvellous to buy Dunaden before he won a Melbourne Cup for Sheikh Fahad, and this is another of those great moments that we all dream about.
“Funnily enough there is a very stark similarity between Roaring Lion and Dunaden in that they are both incredibly intelligent horses – they both knew they were in a horse race and both wanted to win. That cannot be said for 99 per cent of the horse population, they just do what they do, but these horses know they are racing.
“That was just highly emotional, as you can imagine.”
Winning jockey Oisin Murphy rode the 2/1 favorite Roaring Lion, who beat I Can Fly (33/1) and Century Dream (25/1) by a neck and half a length.
Murphy said: “He hated the ground and was never on the bridle, but he wanted it and showed his resolution and toughness. What a great stallion he will make.
“Sheikh Fahad and his brothers put a lot of money into British racing and we are very lucky to have them, and I am delighted to win on their horse on the biggest day of the year. I didn't really get to enjoy the race because it was nip and tuck in the final furlong and my fellow had little petrol left, but he stuck at it.
“I'm riding in Italy tomorrow, but my mother is here and I'll leave her to do the celebrating for me.”
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