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Sunday, 16 December, 2018

QEII 'definitely an option' for Champion Stakes favourite Roaring Lion

Roaring Lion (left) mows down Saxon Warrior in the closing stages of the Irish Champion Stakes
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Roaring Lion has proved the season's superstar colt with an impressive haul of Group 1 victories over a mile and a quarter, but it could be his versatility that is put to the test next with a possible tilt at the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes over a mile.

The Dante, Eclipse, Juddmonte and Irish Champion Stakes have all fallen to the striking grey over the longer trip and he is favourite for the Qipco Champion Stakes.

However, the likelihood of soft ground could persuade connections to revert to a mile at Ascot on October 20.

Watch: Roaring Lion collar Saxon Warrior in the final strides of the Irish Champion Stakes

He hasn't raced over that trip since May when finishing fifth to Saxon Warrior in the 2,000 Guineas, but David Redvers, racing manager to owners Qatar Racing, said: "All along the form men – the clever boys with their sectional times – have said he’s as good as any of the best milers this year.

"The QEII will definitely be kept as an option if the ground comes up soft. We just want the ground to have good in the description, that would be ideal."

Oisin Murphy and Sheikh Fahad after Roaring Lion's victory in the Qipco Irish Champion Stakes

Redvers reports Roaring Lion is recovering well from his epic Leopardstown tussle with Saxon Warrior, saying: "He has the most remarkable constitution – he was charging around the place and wanting more a few days after his win, which is quite something when you think of the amount of racing he’s had and that he had a pretty tough race.”

Cracksman destroyed his rivals in last year's Champion Stakes, but things haven't done to plan since

The John Gosden-trained colt was supported into 5-1 (from 8) with Sky Bet on Wednesday for the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, in which his rivals could include Recoletos, Expert Eye and Lord Glitters, but he remains a general 8-1 chance.

The three-time Group 1 winner is a best-priced 2-1 with Betfred and William Hill for the Champion Stakes, with last year's winner Cracksman, Enable and Crystal Ocean among other high-profile acceptors on Wednesday.

Angel out to lay Ascot ghost to rest

Harry Angel, last season's sensational six-furlong sprinter, hasn't had everything go his way this season but is back on track for the British Champions Sprint.

It appeared business as usual for last year's July and Sprint Cup winner when he scooted clear of Brando in the City of York Stakes in May.

However, disaster stuck – once again at Ascot, a track the four-year-old has never won at – when he got agitated in the stalls and injured himself prior to the Diamond Jubilee.

Watch: Harry Angel run away with last year's 32Red Sprint Cup

He returned to defend his crown in the 32Red Sprint Cup at Haydock, but the 6-4 favourite faded to finish sixth behind The Tin Man, who conversely adores Ascot, having won the Champions Sprint back in 2016 and Diamond Jubilee in 2017.

Harry Angel's trainer Clive Cox has since had time to react to that performance, and said: "On heavier ground than last year, he quite visibly went a bit too quick. It was plain for all to see that he was just a bit too exuberant on the day."

Clive Cox is hoping Harry Angel can finally lay his Ascot hoodoo to rest

The trainer has not lost faith in the Godolphin's son of Dark Angel. He said "I’m absolutely confident he's as good, if not better, than last year. I hope the weather stays dry – the forecast is encouraging – and if that’s the case we'll be very much looking forward to it.

"He’s in good form and the drier autumn than we have had compared to last year will give us a chance to lay the ghost of Ascot to rest."

Harry Angel is a general 7-1 shot to end his Ascot hoodoo later this month with 2016 scorer The Tin Man heading the market as a best-priced 4-1 favourite with bet365.

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All along the form men – the clever boys with their sectional times – have said that he’s as good as any of the best milers this year
E.W. Terms
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