Champion Roaring Lion recovering from colic surgery in New Zealand
Son of Kitten's Joy ruled out of southern hemisphere breeding season
Last year's European champion three-year-old Roaring Lion is recovering from successful colic surgery in New Zealand.
The operation has ruled the son of Kitten's Joy out of covering mares during the southern hemisphere season at Cambridge Stud.
Roaring Lion – trained by John Gosden to win four Group 1s for owner Qatar Racing – had been released from quarantine at 6am on Saturday morning and had spent 15 minutes in his paddock at Cambridge Stud when symptoms of colic were identified.
He was transferred to Cambridge Equine Hospital immediately and underwent emergency surgery, and was in recovery by mid-afternoon.
David Redvers, racing manager for Sheikh Fahad Al Thani's Qatar Racing, who has overseen Roaring Lion's first season at Tweenhills Stud in Gloucestershire, headed to New Zealand immediately and has been in regular contact with Cambridge Stud CEO Henry Plumptre.
"I had a fairly upbeat report from the Plumptres, which was heartening, the critical time is obviously the first 48 hours after an operation like this," Redvers said. "He had a small intestine colic – it was a very rare case, a freak event really – and without going into too many specifics, the reason he’s alive now is because they spotted it immediately.
"It happened at Cambridge Stud, our stallion man Reece Sutcliffe was out there with the horse and immediately knew something was wrong and they rushed him straight into Cambridge Hospital.
"Normally with a small intestine, the horse is dead very quickly if it’s not operated on immediately because you can’t very successfully reset, i.e. cut out, sections of the small intestine. Because they were able to get him in and get the very best care, they had the best experts in colic surgery from both the major practices in Cambridge on site working on the horse.
"They’ve managed to untwist the section of gut that was causing the problem, repair a small hole, and flush everything through."
Speaking to Racing TV's Luck On Sunday, Redvers added that Roaring Lion was not through the woods just yet.
"It’s obviously tough for everybody, it just reminds us all that horses are living creatures and it reminds me particularly of the pain stable staff must feel when they lose their loved and cherished horses."
The news broke in the early hours of Sunday morning after a bulletin from Cambridge, which will issue further updates on the horse's condition over the next few days.
Plumptre's statement said: "We want to act in the best interests of Sheikh Fahad and our shareholders. Following major surgery, we feel it's appropriate to withdraw the horse from service with all shareholders being fully refunded.
"Our best-case scenario is that Roaring Lion makes a full recovery and can be returned safely to the UK. While everyone at Cambridge Stud is shattered, we feel the obligation to Sheikh Fahad, David Redvers and our shareholders is important.
"It's a massive blow to lose Roaring Lion like this, but his ongoing welfare is now our prime concern."
The shock development will cause alarm for industry professionals and racing fans alike after the loss of Sea Of Class, another star of the 2018 Flat season, to colic this month.
Roaring Lion covered a glittering debut book of mares at a fee of £40,000 under the Qatar Racing banner at Tweenhills, with the Group 1-winning mares reported to have been sent to him including Bateel, Baltic Baroness, Giofra, Golden Lilac, Lightening Pearl and Simple Verse.
He had been slated to stand at Cambridge Stud during his shuttle trip to the southern hemisphere at a fee of NZ$35,000 (£18,770/€20,830).