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Racing fans left numb by deaths of Roaring Lion and Espoir D'Allen

Sat 24 Aug 2019
Qatar Racing's Sheikh Fahad with Oisin Murphy and Roaring Lion
Qatar Racing's Sheikh Fahad with Oisin Murphy and Roaring Lion

Racing fans were left numb on Friday evening after it was announced that two of the sport’s young stars had lost their lives.

Soon after the announcement that five-year-old Champion Hurdle winner Espoir D’Allen had been put to sleep because of injuries suffered in a freak accident came the news that multiple Group One winner Roaring Lion had lost his brave fight against colic.

The death of the latter, after just one year as a stallion, will deprive the sport of seeing what thousands of his offspring might have been capable of over many years to come.

He had huge potential as a sire and will leave a massive void at Tweenhills, in Gloucestershire, where he stood.

Trained by John Gosden to win the Eclipse, Juddmonte International, Irish Champion Stakes and the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes last year, the son of Kitten's Joy appeared to be on the road to recovery after twice undergoing surgery for colic in recent weeks.

Owned by Qatar Racing, Roaring Lion covered his first book of mares in the spring, but it was when he was shipped to New Zealand to stand at Cambridge Stud the problem first emerged.

In a statement on Friday afternoon, David Redvers of Tweenhills Stud said: "At approximately midday today Roaring Lion was observed to be uncomfortable in his stable at Cambridge Stud. On examination by stud vet Rob Hitchcock, Roaring Lion was admitted to Cambridge Equine hospital.

Watch how Roaring Lion won the Eclipse

"There operating surgeons Dr Alanna Zantingh and Dr Greg Quinn performed ultrasound examination and at 2.45pm the decision was made on welfare grounds to put Roaring Lion to sleep."

The brilliant grey was one of the stars of last year. In addition to his four Group One wins, he won the Dante and was also third in the Derby after contesting the Craven and 2000 Guineas.

He was as tough and talented as they come and was named Cartier Horse of the Year.

"I am obviously distraught about Roaring Lion, he was so brave right to the end," owner Sheikh Fahad said. "He was a horse of a lifetime in all his characteristics I would like to thank everyone at the Cambridge Equine hospital and Cambridge Stud for all their efforts and professionalism to the end."

Retired to the breeding sheds at the end of last year, his first covering season passed without incident before he was shipped to New Zealand to cover mares from there and Australia at the renowned Cambridge Stud in Waikato.

There was tremendous demand for his services and Cambridge Stud announced at the end of May that his book was closed.

Roaring Lion beat six other Group One winner in the Juddmonte International

Redvers had spoken about him “creating a legacy for New Zealand”. However, his trip to the other side of the world ended in tragedy.

Released from quarantine at 6am, he had spent just 15 minutes in his paddock at Cambridge Stud when symptoms of colic first became apparent.

Five hours after having surgery, Roaring Lion was said to have made a “favourable recovery”. Redvers flew out to New Zealand to be at his side and monitor his progress.

Surgeons untwisted the section of the gut that was causing the problem, repaired a small hole and flushed everything through.

Unfortunately, Roaring Lion required a second operation a few days later but again seemed to be on the road to recovery.

Last week, his connections released a video outlining full details of his colic operations and battle for life.

Today, the beautiful grey lost that battle.

Earlier this summer, Sea Of Class, a two-time Group 1 winner who was beaten a short neck by Enable in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe last year, died 19 days after initially undergoing colic surgery.

Espoir D'Allen had been a rare five-year-old winner of the Champion Hurdle in March. And what a winner he was, breezing home by 15 lengths in a contest where few could look beyond Buveur D'Air, Apple's Jade and Laurina.

Superbly handled by the modest, quietly spoken Gavin Cromwell, he lost only one of his nine races over jumps. Given his age and ability, he might have reigned for years had fate dealt him a better hand.

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