Roaring Lion Takes Irish Champion Stakes

Roaring Lion won the Irish Champion Stakes (G1), one of three Breeders’ Cup Challenge races on the Saturday card at Leopardstown (Photo credit: Leopardstown Racecourse).

Qatar Racing’s Roaring Lion further established himself today as Europe’s top middle distance horse by overtaking Saxon Warrior (JPN) at the wire to win the$1.493 million, 1 ¼ mile QIPCO Irish Champion Stakes (G1) at Leopardstown under jockey Oisin Murphy. Today’s win, the third consecutive Group 1 for Roaring Lion, was his second Breeders’ Cup Challenge victory this year in the Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf division, having already qualified for the Turf when he won the Juddmonte International at York on Aug. 22.

Earlier on the Leopardstown card, John Dance’s 3-year-old filly Laurens (GB) scored a huge upset defeating odds-on favorite Alpha Centauri (IRE) to win the Coolmore Fastnet Rock Matron Stakes (G1) and securing an automatic berth into the Maker’s Mark Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf. Shadwell Estate’s Madhmoon (IRE) became the first horse to qualify for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf this year when he won the KMPG Champions Juvenile Stakes (G3).

The Breeders’ Cup Challenge is an international series of 85 stakes races whose winners receive automatic starting positions and fees paid into a corresponding race of the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, which will be held at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky on Nov. 2-3.

Roaring Lion, bred in Kentucky by RanJan Racing Inc and trained by John Gosden, was the 8-11 favorite against six rivals in the Irish Champion Stakes, and got all he could handle against 2000 Guineas (G1) winner Saxon Warrior (5-2) from the Ballydoyle stable of Aidan O’Brien.

The 3-year-old Saxon Warrior, and stablemate Deauville (IRE), carried the pace through the first seven furlongs of the race, while Roaring Lion was held steady by Murphy, biding his time in fifth place on the outside. As Deauville began to fade with two furlongs remaining, Saxon Warrior increased his advantage along the rail. Roaring Lion then started to roll inside the last furlong and steadily wore Saxon Warrior to his inside and prevailed by a neck.

Deauville held on for third, followed by the filly Athena (IRE) in fourth, Study of Man (IRE), Rhododendron (IRE) and Verbal Dexterity (IRE). Roaring Lion covered the 1 ¼ miles in 2:07:21 over a course listed as good to firm. Addeybb (IRE) was scratched due to unsuitable grounds.

Roaring Lion, a bay son of Kitten’s Joy out of Vionnet by 2006 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Street Sense, is now 7 of 11 lifetime. He captured the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown (G1) in June against older horses, prior to his victory in the Juddmonte International. Roaring Lion also won the Group 2 Dante Stakes at York prior to his third-place finish in the Investec Derby (G1) at Epsom. He began the year on April 19 with a third-place finish in the Craven Stakes (G3) at Newmarket and was fifth to Saxon Warrior in the 2000 Guineas on May 5.

Irish Champion Stakes Replay

The Irish Champion Stakes was the 10th Breeders’ Cup Challenge race in the Longines Turf Division this year. The first eight to qualifiers are the filly La Extrana Dama (ARG), who won the Gran Premio 25 de Mayo (G1) at San Isidro in Buenos Aires; Quarteto de Cordas (BRZ), who captured the Grande Premio Brasil (G1) at Gavea in Rio de Janeiro; Mikki Rocket (JPN), who captured the Takarazuka Kinen at Hanshin in June, Poet’s Word in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes and the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes (G1) at Ascot; Robert Bruce (CHI) in the Arlington Million (G1); Roaring Lion in the Juddmonte International; Fashion Business (GB), who captured the Del Mar Handicap (G2) at Del Mar and Glorious Empire (IRE), winner of the Sword Dancer (G1) at Saratoga.

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In the $418,142 Coolmore Fastnet Rock Matron (GI), run at one mile, Laurens got the jump on the six rival fillies and mares and saved ground along the rail under jockey Daniel Tudhope to score a three-quarters-of a length victory over 3-10 favored Alpha Centauri, who had become Europe’s top miler off four consecutive Group 1 scores in Ireland, England and France, and had qualified for the Breeders’ Cup Mile by winning Prix du Haras de-Fresnay-Le-Buffard Jacques le Marois at Deauville on August 12.

Laurens, a 3-year-old bay daughter of Siyouni (FR), however, had some credentials of her own. Trained by Karl Burke, Laurens won the Prix Saint-Alary (GI) at Longchamp in May and the Prix de Diane Longines (French Oaks) (GI) at Chantilly in June. Burke cut her back to one mile today following a sixth-place finish last time out in the “Win and You’re In” Darley Yorkshire Oaks (G1). Laurens completed the mile in 1:39.23.

In the $179,204 KPMG Champions Juvenile (GII), Madhmoon registered his second career win in as many starts for trainer Kevin Prendergast. A bay son of Dawn Approach (IRE) Madhmoon, who broke his maiden at Leopardstown at a mile on Aug. 16, was sent off at the 6-5 favorite in the seven horse field. Jockey Chris Hayes kept Madhmoon in the third place half way through the race until sending him to the front with a furlong remaining, and easily prevailed over the 7-2 second choice Broome (IRE) by 2 ¼ lengths. Madhmoon completed the mile in 1:41.

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