Long Distance Cup Tips: Waterville looks anything but run of the mill

Trueshan and Hollie Doyle will be gunning for three Long Distance Cups in a row at Ascot
Trueshan and Hollie Doyle will be gunning for three Long Distance Cups in a row at Ascot

Flat fans may be despairing at the fast approaching end of their season, but before the regally bred runners head off to their stables for winter or the breeding sheds there is still one last big party, British Champions' Day at Ascot. A six race extravaganza of top quality fayre, we begin with the traditional curtain raiser the Long Distance Cup. With no Kyprios and Stradivarius retired, hat-trick hunting Trueshan faces some new challengers, including the impressive St Leger winner. Billy Grimshaw has previewed the race for us and has a selection...

No result in this race would start the day off in a more enjoyable fashion than seeing Trueshan bound to his third Long Distnce Cup in a row. Alan King's popular soft ground seeking stayer has grown an army of fans over the years and his partnership with Hollie Doyle has only increased his popularity. He is one of the best stayers we have seen in recent times, as he exemplified by producing a stunning weight defying Northumberland Plate earlier this campaign. His supporters will surely have been a little concerned, however, with his performance in the Gold Cup when he seemed to be travelling well before not finding much for pressure up the straight. That run was excused by the ground and the fact he was beaten by two elite horses, but there is no excuse for his next time out defeat at 2/9 behind the re-opposing Coltrane at Newcastle. This was probably a career best for the winner but for Trueshan he showed once again a less than perfect racing attitude. At sub 2/1 at the time of writing and with the ground not looking likely to soften up too much, I have to oppose the old warrior for this year's title.

Coltrane has had a stellar season, with his neck second to Cleveland in the Chester Cup a brilliant effort before a few cracking wins and then of course conquering Trueshan last time out. He is without doubt an admirable stayer but for this race I would much rather be with Quickthorn, who was 14 lengths clear of him when winning the Lonsdale Cup at York. He is currently a bigger price than Coltrane, which makes no sense and if looking for an each-way wager would be my pick as I can forgive his performance in France last time out behind the freakish Kyprios. Tom Marquand could once again be dangerous off the front on board Quickthorn if given too much rope.

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Trawlerman won the most valuable handicap in Europe the Ebor last time out (I don't like to think about this for too long as I was on the photo finish second Alfred Boucher) and deserves his chance at this level of a race. It would be quite a shock were he to prove immediately good enough to step up but the Ebor is always a handicap full of Group class horses so he is worthy of respect. Stratum and Wordsworth look to have it all to do if even in the shake up to make the first three, but one horse certainly with not much to find is the impressive Leger winner Eldar Eldarov. Roger Varian's charge looked a bona-fide star at Doncaster and he beat the right horse home in New London, but his trainer has been lukewarm in committing the Dubawi colt to this race. A notoriously cautious handler, Varian has made it clear the owner will have the final say and that this hasn't been race for three year olds in the past. The rebuttal to this would be not many three year olds of Eldar Eldarov's class have tried and hopefully for the sake of Champions Day and the race he does rock up to add another layer of intrigue. If he does don't be surprised to see him go off favourite.

With the Leger winners' participation not certain there could only be one selection for me and that is WATERVILLE for Aidan O'Brien. British trainers will undoubtedly perform a collective eye-roll if the Ballydoyle handler leaves his star stayer Kyprios in his stable but still takes out the Long Distance Cup, but I think he has a belting chance. The ride Wayne Lordan gave him has to be seen to be believed in the Irish Cesarewitch and the confidence with which the horse scythed through the opposition to come from last to first at The Curragh marked him out as one with elite ability. Ryan Moore will undoubtedly sit at the rear of the field relaxing his charge and if as expected Quickthorn takes them along at a steady clip then I can see Waterville taking the step up from hanidcap to Group company and winning this race even more snugly than he did that day at The Curragh, He positively flew in the final furlong and stamina will be no issue, so the three year old is a confident pick to start British Champions' Day with an Irish winner.

Long Distance Cup
Waterville silk

Waterville

lost
Champion Stakes Odds
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