Cracksman duel is Lion's last stand

CONNECTIONS of Roaring Lion would relish a 'potentially explosive' clash with stablemate Cracksman in the Qipco Champion Stakes at Ascot.

Oisin Murphy and Roaring Lion are on track for the Champion Stakes.

Oisin Murphy’s mount has completed a Group One hat-trick with victories in the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown, the Juddmonte International at York and the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown.

Yet, while the horse’s class is proven after becoming the first horse since Sea The Stars in 2009 to win all three races in the same season, victory over Cracksman would prove Roaring Lion’s champion qualities once and for all.

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Cracksman could either take on Enable, also trained by John Gosden, in this weekend’s Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at Paris Longchamp or meet Roaring Lion on Qipco British Champions Day on October 20.

Both Roaring Lion and Cracksman feature amongst 24 entries for this 10-furlong showpiece race.

However, Roaring Lion could drop back to a mile for the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes if the going is soft.

David Redvers, racing manager for Roaring Lion’s owners Qatar Racing, said: “Roaring Lion has the most remarkable constitution. He was charging around the place and wanting more a few days after his win at Leopardstown, which is quite something when you think of the amount of racing he’s had – and that he had a pretty tough race.”

Redvers has particular admiration for the way the son of Kitten’s Joy bounced back from finishing third in the Epsom Derby when just failing to see out the mile and a half trip.

“The Derby can destroy 

“It’s always a real fear running a horse that you’ve got serious stamina doubts about in a race like that because you can leave him there, and you might never get them back afterwards,” he explained.

“He clearly did not stay at Epsom and there is never a tougher race than when you run beyond your stamina. Anyone into running themselves will tell you there is nothing worse than either being unfit, or being pushed beyond where you can actually physically go. It can leave its mark, but with him he came straight back out and ‘wallop’, into the Eclipse and he does it again.”

On the prospect of meeting Cracksman, Redvers said: “He’s last year’s champion and, while it’s not been plain sailing for him this year, it’s coming to his time of his year. To see those two square up would be fascinating, potentially explosive. It’s what Qipco British Champions Day is all about and what it is there for.”

It has yet to be decided whether Roaring Lion will stay in training next season, or instead start his second vocation as a stallion at Tweenhills in Hartpury, Gloucestershire.

Trainer Stuart Edmunds is hoping Maria’s Benefit has “a nice introduction” to fences when she makes her debut over the bigger obstacles at Warwick today.

Victorious in the Grade Two Yorkshire Rose Mares’ Hurdle at Doncaster under Ciaran Gethings after a protracted struggle with the well-regarded Irish Roe, she returns to action for the first time since finishing fourth to Laurina at the Cheltenham Festival.

Edmunds has left no stone unturned, having given her a taste of the Warwick fences as part of her preparation. “As long as there’s no good to firm in the ground, she’ll run,” he said. “They have promised me it’s lovely good ground and she does like that. There’s only the three runners. It should be a nice introduction.”