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Roaring Lion shows who is boss in Dante Stakes

17 May 2018

John Gosden-trained colt now clear second favourite for the Investec Derby after easy York success.

Roaring Lion and Murphy combined for an emphatic York success. Picture: Racingfotos.com

Roaring Lion is no bigger than 7-1 for the Investec Derby at Epsom on June 2 after running out a superb winner of the Betfred Dante Stakes at York.

Fifth in the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket 12 days ago, John Gosden’s colt was the 3-1 favourite as he stepped up to a mile and a quarter for the first time in this recognised trial for next month’s Derby at Epsom.

Mildenberger cut out much of the running, closely pursued by the winner’s stablemate, Crossed Baton, while Oisin Murphy kept his powder dry aboard Roaring Lion in the middle of the pack.

Once given his head racing inside the final two furlongs, the American-bred colt readily accelerated to the lead and fairly shot clear, leaving his rivals trailing in his wake as he passed the post four and a half lengths to the good.

Mark Johnston’s Mildenberger (7-2) boxed on for second, with Aidan O’Brien-trained 50-1 shot Zabriskie coming from the rear of the field to grab third.

Roaring Lion is now the clear second-favourite behind his 2000 Guineas conqueror Saxon Warrior, who is as short as 4-6.

“I’ve always said this is his trip and he’s proved himself over a mile and a quarter,” Gosden said: “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.

“I think it just confirms the fact that the best Derby trial is the Guineas and this is probably the second best Derby trial.

“He’s never been difficult at home. He’s a lovely horse, but he’s a playboy. He’s inclined not to concentrate sometimes.

“I liked the way he came between horses and went away and won and he didn’t do any of his silly hanging left and playing around. 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.”

Asked about the Derby, Gosden said: “I think we’ll see how he is over the next few days and if he’s in great nick we’ll make a decision about which race to go for (Epsom or French Derby).

“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.”