Lion camp up for Cracksman clash in Champion Stakes

Qatar Racing manager David Redvers reports Roaring Lion in fine form as he gears up for Ascot’s British Champions Day

  • Wednesday 03 October
  • News
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Connections of Roaring Lion would relish a “potentially explosive” clash with stablemate Cracksman in the Qipco Champion Stakes at Ascot.

Cracksman was a brilliant winner of the 10-furlong showpiece last season, but has not yet rediscovered that form this season.

Roaring Lion, on the other hand, has enjoyed a magnificent campaign, completing a Group One hat-trick with victories in the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown, the Juddmonte International at York and the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown.

Cracksman looks likely to either take on another John Gosden-trained superstar in this weekend’s Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, or meet Roaring Lion on Qipco British Champions Day on October 20.

David Redvers, racing manager for Roaring Lion’s owners Qatar Racing, said: “Roaring Lion has the most remarkable constitution. He was charging around the place and wanting more a few days after his win at Leopardstown, which is quite something when you think of the amount of racing he’s had – and that he had a pretty tough race.”

On the prospect of meeting Cracksman, he added: “He’s last year’s champion – and while it’s not been plain sailing for him this year, it’s coming to his time of the year.

“To see those two square up would be fascinating, potentially explosive. It’s what British Champions Day is all about, and what it is there for.”

Roaring Lion, Cracksman and Enable were among 24 horses left in the Champion Stakes at the latest forfeit stage.

Roaring Lion has also been left in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes on the same card, but he will revert to a mile only if underfoot conditions become testing.

Redvers said: “All along, the form men – the clever boys with their sectional times – have said that he’s as good as any of the best milers this year, so the QEII will definitely be kept as an option if the ground comes up soft.”

Aidan O’Brien, who has surprisingly never won the Champion Stakes, has seven remaining contenders – including Capri and Magic Wand.

Other hopefuls include Sir Michael Stoute’s Crystal Ocean and the Roger Varian-trained Defoe.

Roaring Lion is one of 26 horses going forward for the QEII. More likely runners include French star Recoletos, Lightning Spear, Accidental Agent and Without Parole.

The first race on Champions Day is the Long Distance Cup, in which Gosden’s Stradivarius will be expected to play a starring role.

The son of Sea The Stars will be widely expected to add to his triumphs in the Yorkshire Cup, Gold Cup, Goodwood Cup and Lonsdale Cup.

His owner-breeder, Bjorn Nielsen, said: “I saw him on Friday morning. He’s had a nice break and recovered well. The weather forecast for at least the next two weeks is good – and provided it’s not heavy ground, he will run.

“Everybody loves those stayers. Stradivarius is on target, and fingers crossed everything stays as it is.”

Stradivarius is the star name among 22 entries left in the Long Distance Cup.

Aidan O’Brien has nine entries, but seemingly his main hope is Irish St Leger hero Flag Of Honour – who needs to be supplemented.

He said: “Flag Of Honour would be one we’d be thinking of sending over. The QIPCO Long Distance Cup over two miles is what we have in mind for him.”

The last two winners of the Qipco British Champions Sprint, The Tin Man and Librisa Breeze, are among 26 entries for this year’s renewal.

Clive Cox is hoping Harry Angel can show his true colours after finishing only sixth in last month’s Sprint Cup at Haydock on what was his first start since suffering injury at Royal Ascot. The four-year-old remains without a victory at Ascot after five previous runs at the track.

Cox said: “At the moment we are all systems go. He’s a horse I’m absolutely confident is as good, if not better, than last year.

“I hope the weather stays dry – the forecast is encouraging – and if that’s the case we will be very much looking forward to it.

“He’s in good form, and the drier autumn than we have had compared to last year will give us a chance to lay the ghost of Ascot to rest.”

The first three home in the QIPCO British Champions Fillies and Mares Stakes last year – Hydrangea, Bateel and Coronet – remain on course to meet again. Others in the mix include Lah Ti Dar.

O’Brien said of Hydrangea: “The plan is to go back to Ascot. We’ve had plenty of little issues with some of the horses (this year) and we’ve never really got her 100 per cent, but we think she’s nearly back.”

Lion camp up for Cracksman clash in Champion Stakes

Ascot 15:50, 20 October 2018

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