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Lion looks to roar over shorter trip

3.15 Ascot
Queen Elizabeth II Stakes | G1 | 1m | ITV1/RUK

Roaring Lion drops back to a mile for the first time since May after connections decided against getting into a potentially stamina-sapping slog over his preferred trip in the Champion Stakes.

Since his fifth to Saxon Warrior in the 2,000 Guineas, the son of Kitten's Joy has been one of the revelations of the season in racking up three Group 1 wins at a mile and a quarter, most recently the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown last month.

A straight mile on soft ground will be different from that tactical battle for the three-year-old who carries the first colours of the meeting's sponsors Qipco.

Since his Irish triumph, Roaring Lion has been put by for this fixture and has been in fine form at home where he is ridden in daily exercise by Kieran O'Neill.

Trainer John Gosden said: "Roaring Lion goes there in good form and I've never had a horse progress physically and mentally as he has through this year.

"He had an impossible task at Leopardstown where he was forced five horses wide off no pace and still managed to win. We had planned to run him in the Champion Stakes, but with ground as it is on the round course, we opted for the straight course."

He added: "I'm not in love with his draw out on the wing in 15 as the low numbers could well be the place to be but we'll get on with it."

Laurens tackles boys for the first time

Laurens takes on the colts for the first time for what is likely to be her final outing of a lucrative season in which she is reunited with her original jockey P J McDonald.

The three-year-old has been the star female turn for Burke in recent months and her gutsy triumph in the Sun Chariot Stakes at Newmarket a fortnight ago made it five Group 1 wins to date.

Laurens came out of that neck defeat of the re-opposing Happily at Newmarket in such good shape that owner John Dance stumped up the £70,000 supplement to add her into a competitive renewal.

Burke said: "Laurens is in amazing condition for the time of year as she still has her summer coat and looks as well as she's ever done. It's a tough race but she'll handle the ground and we are looking forward to it. I'd say it would be unlikely she'll go to the Breeders' Cup after this but she stays in training." 

Lord out to glitter again on Champions Day

Lord Glitters returns to Champions Day at a somewhat higher level than a year ago when he landed the closing Balmoral Handicap in scintillating fashion.

David O'Meara's hope showed a mile and soft ground was ideal that day and he has quickly ascended into Group 1 company this year, including a career-best second to Accidental Agent in the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot.

Since then, Lord Glitters finished an unlucky-in-running sixth in the Grade 1 Woodbine Mile in Canada last time.

O'Meara said: "Lord Glitters was second in the Queen Anne on fast ground but he likes it soft. He's competed in a few Group 1s this year and has not disgraced himself, and it was always the plan to come back to Ascot with him." 

Addeybb fit from Newmarket spin

A recent racecourse gallop at Newmarket will have helped to put an edge on William Haggas's Addeybb, who is having his first run in more than five months after making such a bright start to the season in the spring.

The son of Pivotal will have similar ground to that he encountered when winning the Lincoln Handicap at Doncaster in March and the Group 2 Sandown Mile the following month but has not been sighted since finishing down the field in the Lockinge Stakes at Newbury in May.

Connections had been considering stepping him up to a mile and a quarter to tackle the Champion Stakes but have instead opted to stick at a mile. Haggas said: "Addeybb is very well and we've been waiting for the ground for him. His draw in stall nine is fine and I expect him to be competitive." 

Happily and I Can Fly take on Laurens again

Happily and I Can Fly are renewing rivalry with Laurens, to whom they ran second and fourth respectively in the Sun Chariot Stakes two weeks ago.

Happily was beaten a head on that occasion and trainer Aidan O'Brien said: "Happily ran very well at Newmarket and while we haven't asked her to do a lot since, she seems in good form. She won a couple of Group 1s last season on soft and on soft to heavy.

"I Can Fly has also been in good form since her last run. However, she has shown her best form on better ground, so we'll have to see how she gets on."

O'Brien achieved the most recent of his four wins in the event when Minding was successful two years ago.

Lightning Spear to strike at third time of asking?

Goodwood specialist Lightning Spear is making his third appearance in this race in which he previously fared best when third to Minding in 2016.

The seven-year-old wears the second colours of the sponsors (Roaring Lion wears the first) and was not disgraced when fifth behind today's rival Recoletos in the Group 1 Prix du Moulin last time.

David Redvers, racing manager to owners Qatar Racing, said: "The race was not run to suit him last time in France and we are hoping for a more even pace. Ideally, we would have liked fast ground for him but he has shown he can go through soft in the past and hopefully this can set him up for a tilt at the Breeders' Cup before he retires to Tweenhills to become a stallion."

What the others say

Simon Crisford, trainer of Century Dream
We've freshened him up since he finished third in the Arlington Million and he has come out of that in good shape. He's goes there in very good form and won't mind the ground.

Marco Botti, trainer of Aljazzi
She has shown all her best form at Ascot but the ground is a big concern and we'll walk the track before making a decision on her participation.

James Tate, trainer of Hey Gaman
I expect him to improve from his last run as he was back from a break that day. He'll like the ground. He's a sporting runner in a race with plenty of prize money and we hope to get some of it.


 

 

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