Epsom Derby likely next for Roaring Lion after Dante Stakes victory
Trainer John Gosden to speak with owners after colt beats out Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed's Mildenberger Zabriskie and Godolphin's Nordic Lights
Roaring Lion moved into Epsom Derby contention with an impressive victory in the Group 2 Dante Stakes at York on Thursday.
The John Gosden-trained colt won by four-and-a-half lengths, beating front-runner Mildenberger in the silks of Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, Crown Prince of Dubai.
Zabriskie, in the second colours of trainer Aidan O'Brien, was a creditable third and Godolphin’s Nordic Lights was fifth in the nine-runner field run over the 2,100-metre distance.
It was the first time Roaring Lion, sired by Kitten’s Joy, was covering such a long run in seven career starts.
“This is his trip and he's proved himself over a mile and a quarter," Gosden told the post-race television interview. “I liked the way he hit the line strong. He's galloped out well.
"I think it only pays an enormous compliment to Saxon Warrior, who beat us a neck in the Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster and was imperious in the Guineas.”
Roaring Lion, ridden by Oisin Murphy, finished behind Derby favourite Saxon Warrior twice in two starts.
He went down narrowly to O’Brien’s runner in the Group 1 Racing Post Trophy as a two-year-old last October and was fifth behind the same horse in the English 2000 Guineas May 5.
“I liked the way he came between horses and went away and won. He didn't do any of his silly hanging left and playing around,” Gosden said.
“He's always been a right old Jack the Lad at home, but he's just professionally got in the zone recently. Between ourselves I was expecting a performance like that. I would have been disappointed if he didn't give it."
But Gosden did not commit to the horse's immediate future, saying he would rather discuss it with the owners.
“I think we'll see how he is over the next few days. If he's in great nick, we'll make a decision about which race to go for [Epsom or French Derby],” he said.
“We'll discuss it with the owner and the manager and the jockey - the point is if we are in that position it's a wonderful decision to have to make.
“They [Saxon Warrior and Roaring Lion] are the two nicest colts in Europe. I like Epsom and the Derby, obviously I do, but I'm not putting words in people's mouths.”
Mark Johnston was pleased with Mildenberger’s effort, saying his first impression was "it was a fantastic run behind an impressive winner".
“I said to James [Doyle, the jockey] when he came in 'well done, you made a truly-run trial'. But then Charlie [Johnston, the assistant trainer] has quite rightly said he maybe didn't go fast enough for his own good, he set it up for a faster horse.
“There's absolutely no doubt he wants further, how much further only time will tell. We've got to be happy."
Updated: May 17, 2018 08:35 PM