John Gosden’s three-year-old has arguably been the star of the season in Europe, racking up four Group Ones with victories in the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown, the Juddmonte International at York, the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown and the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot.
He will be tackling dirt for the first time at Churchill Downs on Saturday on what will be his final career start – and David Revers, racing manager to owner Sheikh Fahad’s Qatar Racing operation, is relishing the challenge.
Redvers told At The Races: “Sheikh Fahad’s very much the driving force on it – he’s had a close eye on this race all the way through as an end goal. The horse has proven himself as the best three-year-old in the world on ratings, but obviously that’s only on one surface. He’s out of a Street Sense mare, so there is a case – albeit not a terribly strong case – that he’ll handle the surface. Most of his dam line is actually more turf orientated, even though he’s American-bred, and the sire (Kitten’s Joy) is the king of turf over there.
Oisin Murphy celebrates on Roaring Lion after winning the Juddmonte International Stakes
“He has proven the most durable horse we’ve had anything to do with. He seems to put on weight every time he runs and gets bigger and stronger. That’s the reason why, after a seemingly tough race in the QEII, we’re even considering what some might consider slight madness. It’s a gamble, but in Sheikh Fahad’s view it’s a worthwhile gamble.”
Roaring Lion is reported to be in fine form since arriving in Kentucky.
Redvers added: “I saw the video of him coming off the box, and he’s got his swagger – there’s no question about it. He’s going for a jog round the track today, and tomorrow he’ll go for a proper canter on the dirt.
“Our main fear is there’s quite a lot of rain forecast for Thursday, and the one thing John has said all along is he won’t run the horse on a sloppy track. With luck, it will only be a heavy downpour on Thursday and then we hope the course will dry out.”
He is an 11/2 chance with Sky Bet – non-runner/no bet and four places.