Oisin Murphy

Roaring Lion Horse

Roaring Lion was a brilliant racehorse for owners Qatar Racing and trainer John Gosden, running 11 times as a two-year-old and three-year-old, registering seven victories in the process.

A superb career saw the grey son of Kitten’s Joy and the Street Sense mare Vionnet scoop four Group One victories and win almost £3million in prize money in the process. Known for having a high cruising speed and a blistering turn of foot, he ascended to superstar status during the 2018 European season.

Roaring Lion was foaled on March 11, 2015 and was sent to John Gosden’s Clarehaven Stables in Newmarket to begin his racing career.

He died on August 23, 2019 just months into his stud career after suffering three bouts of colic in New Zealand. He bravely fought through two but after the third the decision was taken to put him to sleep.

Roaring Lion Racing Career

Roaring Lion ran four times as.a juvenile, registering three successes and finishing second in his other race.

His career debut came on Newmarket’s July Course on August 18, 2017 and he duly ran out a comfortable 7/2 winner of a 10-runner novice stakes after being held up in the early stages by jockey Harry Bentley.

Roaring Lion was sent to Kempton’s all-weather track for his next outing in early September 2017, and he was 4/5 favourite for another novice stakes under jockey Oisin Murphy. Despite running green and hanging in the closing stages he strode clear to defeat Compliance by six lengths.

A first step into Pattern company was to come next for Roaring Lion as he took in the Group Two Juddmonte Royal Lodge Stakes on Newmarket’s Rowley Mile on September 30. The 11/4 chance was held up in rear by Oisin Murphy before coming through to outpoint the favourite Nelson (Aidan O’Brien/Ryan Moore) by a neck. He had again hung under pressure in the closing stages.

For his final juvenile start Roaring Lion stepped up to Group One company for the Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster in late October - a renowned trial for the following season’s Classics. Roaring Lion was sent off 8/1 with the hot favourite another Ballydoyle inmate – the unbeaten Saxon Warrior.

Murphy and Roaring Lion again made smooth headway to challenge in the closing stages but the grey again hung left and just failed by a neck to land victory. He would though go into winter quarters as a major contender for the 2018 Classics.

The Craven Stakes at Newmarket on April 19, 2018 would be Roaring Lion’s seasonal debut - the ideal prep race for the 2000 Guineas. John Gosden’s star was expected to advertise his Classic credentials with a win in the Group Three contest and was sent off the 8/13 favourite under Oisin Murphy. But after sweating in the preliminaries he failed to find his customary turn of foot and finished only third behind the hugely impressive winner – Godolphin’s Masar.

Roaring Lion was sent back to the Rowley Mile a couple of weeks later for the 2000 Guineas on May 5. This time his odds were 14/1, reflective of that Craven flop, and he again failed to find that finishing kick as he finished a respectable fifth - beaten two-and-a-half lengths – behind his old foe Saxon Warrior.

Despite those two defeats to start 2018 Gosden persisted with a Classic campaign and sent his grey to York’s Knavesmire for the renowned Epsom Derby trial the Group Two Dante Stakes. And after being sent off the 3/1 favourite he and Murphy finally came good in 2019, travelling well before displaying a blistering turn of foot to score by four-and-a-half lengths.

The Epsom Derby is the pinnacle for all three-year-old middle-distance colts and it would be the next test for Roaring Lion. The big question was whether he would properly stay the 12-furlong trip on the Downs. The answer appeared to be negative as he travelled smoothly into contention under Oisin Murphy before being outstayed by Masar and Dee Ex Bee in the closing stages. The 6/1 chance came out of the race with great credit though, being beaten only two lengths. A step back to 10 furlongs - and glory - now awaited.

The Eclipse Stakes at Sandown was an obvious target now for Roaring Lion, and he went to post the 7/4 favourite for the big race on July 7, 2018. He responded well to Murphy’s urgings all the way up the straight to get the better of a stirring battle with old rival Saxon Warrior by just a neck.

Another massive 10-furlong prize was now firmly on Roaring Lion’s agenda, the glittering Juddmonte International at York’s Ebor meeting on August 22. It was to be his crowning moment as the 3/1 chance travelled sweetly for Murphy before unleashing that blistering turn of foot to win readily by three-and-a-quarter lengths from the 8/5 favourite Poet’s Word. The victory was worth more than £600,000 to his delighted connections.

Roaring Lion was clearly now the best 10-furlong horse in Europe and he bidded to add another huge prize to his haul in the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown on September 15. Again Saxon Warrior would line up to oppose him and again they would have a famous battle to the line. Roaring Lion (8/11fav) showed real guts to match his class by beating the 2000 Guineas winner a neck in a driving finish. The first prize was more than €700,000.

The finale of Roaring Lion’s European career was the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes on Ascot’s Champions Day. And the Gosden star was sent to post the 2/1 favourite under Oisin Murphy on October 20. Much appeared to be against the grey – going back to a mile on very testing ground at the end of a long, hard season. But he somehow dug deep yet again to get in front close home and outpoint Aidan O’Brien’s I Can Fly by a neck.

If everything was against Roaring Lion at Ascot, it was an even stiffer task he faced in his career swansong - the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Churchill Downs on November 3, 2018. He would have to take on the best horses in America on their favoured dirt surface, and it proved a step too far as he finished last of the 14-runner field. But it was a performance which could be forgiven with Murphy looking after him when clearly beaten.

Awards won by Roaring Lion

Roaring Lion, as already detailed, was a high-class two-year-old and finished third in the European Classification in 2017 – behind only the Aidan O’Brien-trained pair US Navy Flag and Saxon Warrior.

But the brilliant grey really came into his own as a three-year-old in 2018, and his sensational campaign was recognised at a glittering ceremony to announce the Cartier Awards. Roaring Lion was named not only champion three-year-old colt, but also European Racehorse of the Year.

Even more acclaim was to come Roaring Lion’s way as he was named the world’s best three-year-old in the Longines World’s Best Racehorse Rankings.

Roaring Lion Stallion

At the conclusion of his glittering career on the racetrack, it was announced that Roaring Lion would be retired to stand as a stallion at Tweenhills Stud in Gloucestershire. He began his first breeding season in 2019 with a stud fee of £40,000.

Roaring Lion's only crop of foals will be on the ground in 2020 and on the racecourse from 2022.

Roaring Lion Colic

Roaring Lion's very life was in danger when he went down with colic - for horses a life-threatening disorder of the digestive system - just a few days after arriving to take up his winter duties as a shuttle stallion in New Zealand.

The grey underwent two bouts of surgery at the Cambridge Equine Hospital after being taken ill at the Cambridge Stud. The second procedure was required after the colt suffered a recurrence of his symptoms. News of his initial illness broke on July 28, 2019, and a statement about his second operation was released four days later.

Positive updates followed the second surgery and Roaring Lion was fit enough to return to Cambridge Stud on Friday August 9, 2019 - 12 days after he had initially fallen ill.

It appeared that Roaring Lion had bravely overcome unlikely odds to survive but on August 23, 2019 it was announced that he had suffered a third bout of colic and the decision had been taken to put him to sleep.

Training Roaring Lion

Roaring Lion was bred in Kentucky by RanJan Racing Inc and sold to bloodstock agent David Redvers at the Keeneland Sales in September 2016 for $160,000. He would run in the colours of Qatar Racing throughout his career and was trained by John Gosden at Clarehaven Stables in Newmarket.

Roaring Lion was ridden in all but one of his races by Oisin Murphy, with Harry Bentley in the saddle for his racecourse debut as a two-year-old in 2017.