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Racing shockers: Colic hits 20 million stud stallion

29 Jul, 2019 5:00am
 3 minutes to read
Roaring Lion winning the Juddmonte International at York last year.
Roaring Lion winning the Juddmonte International at York last year.
NZ Herald
By: Michael Guerin

The New Zealand stud career of world champion Roaring Lion is almost certainly over before it even began.

But for Cambridge Stud the health of a horse that had only been on their property for hours is more important than the commercial reality of what his loss could mean.

The outstanding thoroughbred, rated the best 3-year-old in the world last year, suffered a colic attack soon after arriving at the famed breeding establishment in Waikato on Saturday, just hours after clearing quarantine.

He was operated on almost immediately and his chance of survival, rated 50-50 straight after the operation, had improved to 60-40 last night.


That percentage is unlikely to change much in the next few days until Roaring Lion's condition settles.

"While it has been a terrible experience, we were very very lucky that we had such expert vets on hand," says Cambridge Stud chief executive Henry Plumptre.

That expertise and the speed with which the colic attack was diagnosed and then acted on may have saved the life of the Roaring Lion, who is valued at north of £20 million ($37m).

"He got to the stud on Saturday and we followed the normal procedure for a stallion coming out of quarantine and arriving," says Plumptre.

"That is 30-40 minutes on their box to recover from the float trip then an hour in the paddock to get used to the farm but soon after we put him in the paddock he started to roll and look unhappy.

"That was first spotted by Marcus Corban [long-time Stud manager] and we soon had our main veterinary advisor Rob Hitchcock examine the horse.



"It all developed very quickly from there and 10 minutes after he arrived at the equine hospital he was being prepped for the operation.

"So to have that and then two top surgeons like Alanna Zantingh and Greg Quinn operate on the horse was crucial."

Quinn told the Herald the operation went as well as it could have but the next 48 hours are crucial to get Roaring Lion's bowel moving again to speed his recovery.

But although the initial emergency may be over and Roaring Lion will hopefully survive, his much-awaited New Zealand stud career may not.

Plumptre, speaking on behalf of Cambridge Stud's new owners Brendan and Jo Lindsay, was realistic about the chances of getting Roaring Lion back to the stud.

"Our first priority is to get the horse healthy again and whatever is needed for that," says Plumptre.

"Obviously we are deeply disappointed to lose his stud services for the season ahead and it was a really tough job to ring the shareholders and those who had booked mares to him to tell them what has happened.

"But Brendan and Jo quickly decided all those who took shares in the horse will be refunded.

"So commercially of course it hurts but we have been entrusted with a great horse by his owner Sheikh Fahad Al Thani and David Redvers from Tweenhills [Stud, England] and our responsibility now is to get him back to them a healthy horse in December.

"To him he is like family and we are acutely aware of that.

"While we would love to get him back here for our sake and the breeding industry in this part of the world, realistically with Roaring Lion being worth so much it is going to be very unlikely an insurance company would allow that. Brendan and Jo are in the industry for the long haul and they, like all of us, are hurting. But the horse comes first, simple as that."

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