Roaring Lion’s biggest test in the Breeders’ Cup Classic may come from kickback on the dirt surface rather than the opposition – according to John Gosden.
While Gosden admits the meeting at Churchill Downs was not at the forefront of his mind in his campaigning of the three-year-old this season, the colt’s well-being means he has no reason to stay at home.
Roaring Lion’s success on Champions Day came over a mile in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes. But his three previous Group One wins were over 10 furlongs, and that is why he will be running in the Classic rather than in the Mile – or the Turf over a mile and a half.
“It’s extremely game and sporting of the owners (Qatar Racing Ltd) of Roaring Lion to put him in the Classic,” said Gosden.
“We are all perfectly aware that racing on the dirt is one thing. But as I’ve found down the years, the problem is the kickback – not the surface. We will see how we get on in that department.
“He is a mile-and-a-quarter horse. I thought he was incredibly brave the other day, because at no stage was he on the bridle.
“He has had a tough, long year. I think this enters the ‘let’s have a look at this at the end of the year’ rather than it was planned from the summer onwards.
“He has done everything right. He is a tough horse. It’s a massive challenge to race on the dirt. I don’t need to tell you that we don’t want a sloppy track. A sloppy track is a real acquired taste – and usually the jockeys with the cleanest silks win, which tells you something.
“A mile and a quarter is his trip, and we are going where we are going. It’s unknown waters, but I think it is very brave and very bold of them.
“This horse has a great constitution. He has got bigger and stronger from training and racing hard.
“He has been good since Saturday, and playful at home. He is probably not expecting to get on an aeroplane – but he is tough enough for it.”