The Last Lion to stand at Kildangan Stud

The Last Lion: son of Choisir won this year's Middle Park Stakes

PICTURE: Getty Images The Last Lion retired to stand at Kildangan Stud
By Andrew Dietz and Zoe Vicarage 11:20AM 21 OCT 2016

THE LAST LION, who bookended a remarkable two-year-old campaign with victories in the Brocklesby and Group 1 Middle Park Stakes, 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.

Bred by Barrownstown Stud and Tommy Stack, The Last Lion is the ninth foal out of the Group 1-placed Brief Truce mare Mala Mala and is a half-brother to the Listed winners Contest and Russian Rock.

Further back it is the family of Irish 1,000 Guineas heroine Tarascon.

Johnston purchased the colt for €82,000 at last year's Goffs Orby Yearling Sale.

The Choisir colt, owned by former William Hill boss John Brown and partner Megan Dennis, won four of his starts and the stable was looking forward to races such as next year's Qipco 2,000 Guineas and the Commonwealth Cup before the surprise retirement decision was made.

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."

Sam Bullard, director of Darley stallions added: "The Last Lion is a good-looking horse who was an extremely tough and precocious performer. He put up a truly outstanding performance to win the Group 1 Middle Park Stakes from a top field.

"To get out early and progress all season long as he did shows a real love of the game, and if he transmits that and his durability to his stock, he will be a valuable addition to the stallion ranks."

A fee for The Last Lion will be announced at a later date.

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