Trainer John Gosden hopes he won’t be left eating his “famously silly words” after his glowing assessment of Roaring Lion ahead of Saturday’s Group One Queen Elizabeth II Stakes (1,600m) on Champions Day at Ascot.
Gosden has decided to run his star three-year-old over the mile, as opposed to the Group One Champion Stakes (1,993m) where he also has favourite Cracksman, and expects big things.
“Roaring Lion has a fantastic constitution and doesn’t strike me as a horse who has had enough and gone over the top,” he said. “I hope those aren’t famously silly words.”
Oisin Murphy takes the ride on Roaring Lion and Gosden said the conditions played a part in his decision to choose the shorter Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, which is run down the straight, over the Champion Stakes.
“The thing about this horse is his lightning turn of foot and that could be blunted in soft ground on parts of the round track at Ascot,” he said.
Roaring Lion is looking to make it four Group One wins on the bounce after saluting in the Eclipse Stakes at Sandown, the Juddmonte International Stakes at York and the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown.
The brilliant colt is set to go out as hot favourite but will have to see off the likes of Recoletos and five-time Group One winner Laurens to cap a superb year.
On a day that boasts four Group One races and will be the richest race meeting ever held in the United Kingdom, Gosden hopes the soft track will help another of his stars in Cracksman.
The three-time Group One winning colt, who will be retired to stud after the race, is looking to sign off on a high in a race that he dominated 12 months ago to win by seven lengths.
While it has been suggested the four-year-old is past his best, Gosden believes everything is in place for the perfect farewell for Cracksman.
“Because of the ground he just hasn’t been able to shine this year,” the trainer said. “We prepared him for races like the [Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe] that we then couldn’t run in because of the surface but his attributes are all still there.”
Gosden and Frankie Dettori teamed up with Enable to salute in the Arc and will join forces again at Ascot, with the star jockey saying Cracksman was “not the same animal as he was in the spring” when second behind Poet’s Word in the Prince Of Wales’ Stakes in June.
However the horse has still managed two Group One wins from just three starts in 2018 and enters Saturday’s feature as favourite ahead of the likes of the Michael Stoute-trained Crystal Ocean and Aidan O’Brien’s Capri.
Gosden has also made a gear change for the farewell, putting blinkers on Cracksman for the first time: “Maybe it will add just a touch of focus to what will be his final race.”