The Last Lion bought by Godolphin and retired to stud

The Last Lion gallops to victory in the Middle Park Stakes

PICTURE: Getty Images Middle Park winner The Last Lion retired to stud By Andrew Dietz 10:16AM 21 OCT 2016

THE LAST LION, who bookended a remarkable two-year-old campaign with victories in the Brocklesby and Group 1 Middle Park, has been retired to stand at Darley's Kildangan Stud having been purchased by Godolphin.

The Mark Johnston-trained juvenile delivered a first top-flight success for weighing room stalwart Joe Fanning, on the day of the rider's 46th birthday, at Newmarket last month on what was his tenth appearance of the season.

The Choisir colt, who was owned by former William Hill boss John Brown and partner Megan Dennis, won four of his starts – which also included the Group 3 Sirenia Stakes at Kempton – and the stable was looking forward to races such as next year's Qipco 2,000 Guineas and the Commonwealth Cup before the purchase and subsequent retirement decision.

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Quoted on his website, Johnston said: "It is with mixed feelings that we say goodbye today to The Last Lion who is off to begin what I am sure will be a very successful career at stud.

"Of course, as a trainer, I would have loved to have him next year and to see what he might do stepped up to a mile or in the top sprint races against his elders.

"I had every confidence that he would have trained on and done well but, at the same time, I am delighted for his owners and for the horse himself that he has done so well in such a very short space of time and that he is already in such demand for stud purposes."

One of Johnston's best and toughest

The Last Lion, who became the first to achieve the Brocklesby-Middle Park double since Donovan in 1888, never finished out of the frame and collected a total of £225,663 in prize-money.

"He will surely go down in history as one of the best and toughest horses I ever trained," added Johnston.

"He is the type of horse that every owner and trainers dreams of. He truly is a lion of a horse but I hope he is not the last. I am looking forward to training his progeny and I dearly hope there are many just like him."

The Last Lion will stand at Darley's Kildangan Stud in Ireland. A fee has yet to be announced. He is not the only juvenile star to head off to the paddocks as dual Group 2 winner Mehmas, who was third in the Middle Park, will also start his new career in Ireland at Tally-Ho Stud.

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