Qatar's Pride As Lion Comes Home


Roaring Lion at Tweenhills | Alayna Cullen


HARTPURY, UK–The days may be darkening in the relentless march towards winter but there was one last reminder, in the late autumn sun, of a golden summer for Qatar Racing's champion 3-year-old Roaring Lion (Kitten's Joy) as he paraded at his new home on Thursday morning.

As his connections were toasting his achievement in being named Cartier Horse of the Year at the Dorchester on Tuesday evening, the sleek grey was settling into his newly built stallion box at Tweenhills Farm & Stud, his lavish quarters facing another new recruit to the stallion roster at the Gloucestershire farm, the G1 Qatar Sussex S. winner Lightning Spear (GB) (Pivotal {GB}).

He may have roared on the racecourse–louder and louder as the season wore on–but away from the heat of battle, the Lion's demeanour appears to have been quelled to a contented purr. Strolling calmly before the pack of assembled media, he gave an assured first public appearance in his new role.

“He was an absolute pleasure to train and has a fabulous mind on him,” confirmed John Gosden, who arrived by helicopter from Newmarket with his son Thady and Roaring Lion's owner Sheikh Fahad Al Thani just moments before the parade commenced.

Roaring Lion's four consecutive Group 1 victories this year have bestowed not just championship honours upon him but a starting fee at stud of £40,000.

“There's barely a mare in Europe that this horse can't cover, and he's 16 hands on the dot, the perfect size,” offered Qatar Racing Manager David Redvers as he admired the stallion that he and his regular sales partners Hannah Wall and Peter Molony plucked from the Keeneland September Sale for $160,000.

“I'm extremely spoiled to be able to look out of my bedroom window and see him. It gives me extra reason to jump out of bed in the morning.”

Sheikh Fahad, whose magical season culminated in shouting his own champion home on QIPCO British Champions Day–over the shoulder of the Queen, no less, who appeared to be equally delighted–added, “Having a horse like this is really having the horse of a lifetime. It's going to be hard to match him. We all know that he's the best mile-and-a-quarter horse but for him to have dropped back to a mile in the QEII and show his guts in that ground was really sensational.”

As the Tweenhills team unveiled the fees for the stud's six stallions for 2019, Redvers also announced a new incentive for breeders which promises a free return to any breeder who breeds a stakes winner by a Tweenhills stallion.

“This may be used for that particular stallion, or to any of the other Qatar stallions as a credit to the value of that nomination,” he explained. “Our success equals your success.”

Also on parade on Thursday morning was Lightning Spear, who had arrived with Roaring Lion and was similarly relaxed in his new, unfamiliar environment. He will commence stud duties at a fee of £8,500.

The horse's trainer David Simcock had also made the trip from Newmarket and he stood no chance of leaving the house without his wife Jennie, who, as his daily rider, played a vital role in Lightning Spear's success.

“Of course I'm biased,” said Jennie Simcock, admitting that she will be heading to the breeding stock sales to find a mare to send to Lightning Spear. “But in my view he's very hard to crib. He has such a wonderful temperament and was always such a gentleman. I saw a photo of Pivotal's head the other day and it could have been him, they are so alike.”

Her husband added, “He's been a good friend to us for the past three years. He's taken us to all the right places and he's never let us down. His Group 1 win was very poignant but we were pleased for the horse more than anything. The fact that he stayed sound and retained both his enthusiasm and his ability to the age of seven is a huge credit to him.”

Sheikh Fahad also admitted to a soft spot for the statuesque chestnut, who has the distinction of having been the first racehorse ever to be ridden by his owner, who is now a keen amateur rider.

“He missed most of his 3-year-old season after contracting a virus while in training which left him unable to absorb glucose. He had almost a year off at the stud and when he went back to Robins Farm I was quite attached to him. His being my hack for six months might have changed things for him,” said the sheikh with a grin.

Joining the new boys on parade was another chestnut, Hot Streak (GB) (Iffraaj {GB}), who will have his first runners next season and has quite a record to uphold after fellow Qatar stallions Havana Gold (Ire) (Teofilo {Ire}) and Charm Spirit (Ire) (Invincible Spirit {Ire}) have each been the leading British first-season sire in the last two seasons. Redvers is bullish about completing the hat-trick.

“We've always been very sweet on this horse and his yearlings sold phenomenally well. If you're backing anything to be first-season sire next year we're pretty confident that this boy will follow hot on the heels of Charm Spirit and Havana Gold,” he said.

Tweenhills will have one final new face to introduce to breeders early in the new year with the arrival from Australia's Widden Stud of Zoustar (Aus). A son of Northern Meteor (Aus), who died tragically early in his stud career, he will stand his first season in the Northern Hemisphere for £25,000. If Zoustar's fledgling stud career in his homeland is anything to go by, his is a name that European breeders should have in their notebooks.

The leading first-season sire in Australia last season, during which term his top representatives included the Magic Millions Classic winner Sunlight (Aus), the 8-year-old has continued in impressive fashion this season. Sunlight continues to be one of his leading lights and she led home a trifecta for her sire in the G1 Coolmore Stud S. at Flemington a fortnight ago. The same race was also won not just by Zoustar himself but also by Northern Meteor, and his sire Encosta De Lago (Aus). Sunlight clearly has no regard for primogeniture, as she refused to give way to Sheikh Fahad's Zousain (Aus) and Lean Mean Machine (Aus) all the way down the Flemington straight.

“We followed Zoustar through his racing career and Sheikh Fahad was with me at Flemington the day he won the Coolmore Stud Stakes,” recalled Redvers. “We went to see him the next morning at Chris Waller's stable and he was such a stunning individual we were determined that we weren't going to leave without buying a substantial chunk of him, which we did with Antony Thompson of Widden Stud.

“To have the one-two-three in the Coolmore has flagged up to everyone what a truly special horse he is. He'll be standing for something like A$100,000 to A$120,000 in Australia next season. People are chasing speed so badly up here and he takes speed to another level.”

Zoustar will be joined on the shuttle heading north by Charm Spirit (Ire), the sire of Group 3 victrix Yourtimeisnow (GB) among his 25 first-crop winners, who returns from Windsor Park Stud in New Zealand, and also from two European seasons at the Aga Khan's Haras de Bonneval in Normandy.

Tweenhills Stud Fees:

Roaring Lion (Kitten's Joy) £40,000
Zoustar (Aus) (Northern Meteor {Aus}) £25,000
Lightning Spear (GB) (Pivotal {GB}) £8,500
Charm Spirit (GB) (Invincible Spirit {Ire}) £17,500
Havana Gold (Ire) (Teofilo {Ire}) £15,000
Hot Streak (GB) (Iffraaj {GB}) £7,000

All October 1 terms, Special Live Foal

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