Group One hero The Last Lion verging on racing return

Mark Johnston is preparing Group One winner The Last Lion to return from a mammoth absence of over five years in the Betway Golden Rose Stakes at Lingfield on Saturday.

The son of Choisir won four of his 10 starts during a juvenile campaign which started with victory in the Brocklesby at Doncaster and ended with top-level success in the Middle Park Stakes at Newmarket.

The Last Lion was retired to stud after that 2016 victory over Blue Point, but returned to training earlier this year and is closing in on a remarkable comeback at Listed level this weekend.

“He’s been back since around May time,” said Johnston.

“Basically, once it was realised he was infertile, he was retired (from stud duties) and I purchased Godolphin’s half-share and the other owners basically gave him to me.

“John Brown and Megan Dennis are still in, so we decided to give it a go and see how it went.

“He was gelded and it’s taken a long time to get him fit and make sure everything was OK.

“Joe Fanning has had a couple of gallops on him in the last couple of weeks and was very happy with him, so we’ve made an entry.”

Trainer Mark Johnston
Trainer Mark Johnston (Mike Egerton/PA)

While The Last Lion covered a number of mares and produced 13 individual winners, his stallion career did not take off as hoped.

Johnston added: “I don’t think he’s had many foals right from the beginning. It hasn’t been going all that well and it’s just got gradually worse.

“Someone has asked me if we’ve had a horse come back from a stud career before and I don’t think I have and I don’t think many people will have had one after so long off.

“There’s a little bit of trepidation – you’ve got to be careful – but we think we’ve done plenty of work with him and it would be great if he can come back to anything like his former self.

“He’s worked very, very well. Joe Fanning, who was on him in the Middle Park on his last start, said he gave him a great feel, so he’s very excited about it.”

Other Recent Posts by This Author:

Your first 30 days for just £1
0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.