A general view of the 2016 Dante Stakes

Roaring Lion Looks Derby Material Following Impressive Dante Win

Roaring Lion handed connections a serious Derby poser with a most impressive success in the Dante Stakes at York.

The Dante is viewed as one of the key Derby trials and a handful of horses with Epsom aspirations lined up on York’s Knavesmire on Thursday.

Roaring Lion, who disappointed on his seasonal debut, was sent off favourite at 3/1 on the back of his encouraging performance behind Derby favourite Saxon Warrior in the 2000 Guineas.

Those who supported the son of Kitten’s Joy had few anxious moments, as he travelled supremely before quickening for home well over a furlong out and powering right away in the hands of Oisin Murphy for a four-and-a-half-length success.

Saxon Warrior remains unchanged as 188BET’s 4/5 market leader for the Derby, but he could have a serious opponent if trainer John Gosden and owners Qatar Racing allow Roaring Lion to take his chance at Epsom on XX.

Gosden played down the prospect of a tilt at Epsom glory, which could indicate a possible crack at the French Derby that is two furlongs shorter and the same distance as the Dante, but plans can shift.

“It pays an enormous compliment to Saxon Warrior,” Gosden said, per Sporting Life. “The 2,000 Guineas was the best trial for the Derby and this was the second best.

“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.”

Roaring Lion did pay a compliment to Saxon Warrior and has two-and-a-half lengths to find on the 2000 Guineas winner, but it was difficult not to be taken by the performance and he is priced at 6/1 with 188BET for the Derby.

Mildenberger, who is a talented individual and had the run of the race from the front, was put in his place to the tune of four-and-a-half lengths. There was no fluke about the performance as the race was run at an honest gallop and there were no hard-luck stories in behind.

“He hit the line strong, galloped out well, and we just have to work out whether we go to Epsom or the Prix du Jockey Club,” Gosden added in an interview with the Racing Post. “There is no decision to be made in a hurry.”

Saxon Warrior looks cast iron at the head of the market, but connections of Roaring Lion would be unwise to run scared of one horse.

Aidan O’Brien feels Saxon Warrior will improve for the step up in distance, but the same could be said of Roaring Lion who appeared to relish the increased stamina test from a mile to 10 furlongs and could improve again for 12 furlongs.

The Derby picture looked a one-horse race at the start of the week but that is no longer the case.