Race two on the excellent British Champions Day card sees the best of the current crop of stayers lock horns at Ascot’s finale to the flat season. Regularly attracting the winners from the season’s major long distance events, this contest provides one last chance for the endurance specialists to show who is the fittest of them all.
This looks an excellent renewal, with an appearance from one of the big fan favourites Stradivarius. John Gosden’s horse won this race last year but could Kew Gardens prevent him from being our first multiple-time winner since the days of Persian Punch?
Next Race: TBD
The next renewal of this race has not been scheduled yet. We will update this once the schedule has been released for next season. The race info, trends and tips shown below will be updated for the next renewal once the final declarations have been made.
1m 7½f is the trip for this Group 2 contest set to be run on heavy going this year and offering £450,000 in total prize money.
|Going||Distance||Class||Prize Money||Runners||EW Terms|
|Heavy||1m 7½f||Group 2||£450,000||10||1/5 1-3|
Long Distance Cup Betting Tips
Note: The following tips are from the last running of the race. Tips for the next renewal will be added once the final declarations have been made.
We have high hopes for Kew Gardens in this race but it’s hard to see many other horses giving the 10-race unbeaten Stradivarius a run for his money. The bookies’ third favourite is Royal Line but with his sole Group win coming on an all-weather course, expectations for him have to be restricted.
All remaining runners are trading at a double digit price, Capri being the only name who’s won at a high standard within the past two seasons. Although 6 of the last 12 Long Distance Cup winners didn’t have a previous Group win, it feels like a bare minimum requirement when up against a horse as strong as Stradivarius.
KEW GARDENS TO SHINE ON INCREASED TRIP
For three races in a row now, Kew Gardens (5/1) has had to make do with second place after lacking the necessary speed injection during the closing stages. The Galileo colt has always kept on though, whether at 1m 4f or 1m 6f, soft or good going, indicating that a more stamina-focused test would be to his advantage.
He’ll be vulnerable to a Stradivarius surge late on but the Coronation Cup runner-up will still stand every chance on a course he performed brilliantly at last summer when winning the Queen’s Vase.
STRADIVARIUS WINNING STREAK UNDER REAL THREAT
It’s always hard to bet against a horse enjoying a long winning streak and few streaks come longer than the one Stradivarius is on. A quite straightforward win in the Doncaster Cup made it victory number 10 in a row for the five-year-old but it’s hard to say he’s truly invincible.
On his last two mile outing, Dee Ex Bee pushed him all the way to the line with only a neck separating them. He also only beat Southern France by three-quarters of a length in May’s Yorkshire Cup Stakes, a horse Kew Gardens beat by four-and-a-half lengths at Ascot. There are definitely signs of an upset here so don’t be too quick to put your money on the favourite, especially at such short odds.
MAGIC LOST FOR CAPRI
When Capri edged out Cracksman in the 2017 Irish Derby and then won the St Leger two months later, the sky appeared to be the limit for Aidan O’Brien’s horse. The now five-year-old has regressed since though, winning just once since his Classic win at Doncaster. At no point has there been any hint of a revival either and this season has been his worst yet.
Easily brushed aside by Stradivarius in the Gold Cup, Capri stands virtually no hope here. The chances of stablemate South Pacific aren’t much better either with the three-year-old another who was way off the pace when taking on Stradivarius this summer.
Final Verdict: Kew Gardens To Win
It’s going to take quite the performance for a horse to finally get the better of Stradivarius but Kew Gardens is capable of it. The 2018 St Leger winner looks fully ready for his first test near two miles and the increased trip could be what turn his recent runner-up finishes into a win.
Long Distance Cup Winners
This has not been a race for younger horses of late with only two winners aged under five seen in the past 10 years.
Surprises aren’t a common feature of this Group 2 contest with only two champions since 2007 setting off with an SP of greater than 8/1. In this time favourites have had a solid but unspectacular record, winning on five occasions.
|2018||Stradivarius||Evens||John Gosden||Frankie Dettori|
|2017||Order Of St George||4/5||Aidan O’Brien||Ryan Moore|
|2016||Sheikhzayedroad||11/1||David Simcock||Martin Harley|
|2015||Flying Officer||6/1||John Gosden||Frankie Dettori|
|2014||Forgotten Rules||3/1||Dermot Weld||Pat Smullen|
The big races for the stayers are amongst the most exciting and competitive of the flat racing season. For that reason, the Long Distance division of the British Champions Series is an important storyline throughout the season which culminates in the divisional final, the British Champions Long Distance Cup.
A KEY FIXTURE ON BRITISH CHAMPIONS DAY
The British Champions Long Distance Cup is one of the races taking place during British Champions Day. Held every year during October at Ascot, the day includes the final of a string of top class races across the five different divisions – Sprint, Mile, Middle Distance, Fillies & Mares and Long Distance.
The Long Distance Cup follows the Yorkshire Cup, the Ascot Gold Cup, the Goodwood Cup, the Lonsdale Cup, the Doncaster Cup and the St Leger. Although eligibility criteria of some of those races means that they can’t all have the same leading contenders, there is ample opportunity for compelling storylines to take place during the season.
LONG DISTANCE SERIES RACE ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA
|3 Year Olds Only||3 Years and Older||4 Years and Older|
|St Leger Stakes||Goodwood Cup||Yorkshire Cup|
|Lonsdale Cup||Ascot Gold Cup|
|Long Distance Cup|
That’s been the case more often than not in recent years with compelling battles involving top quality horses such as Stradivarius and Order Of St George. The specialist nature of the Long Distance division means that rivalries between two or three leading stayers are commonplace which only adds to the Long Distance Cup.
A LONG HISTORY AS A BIG STAYERS’ RACE
The nature of the Long Distance Cup changed significantly with the move to Ascot and the inauguration of the British Champions Series. It was an important race before 2011 though and has a distinguished history on the flat.
The first running of this race took place at Newmarket in 1873. Back then it was known as the Jockey Club Cup and was run over a distance of two miles and two furlongs. The race always separated the best stayers in flat racing from the rest even when it was reduced by almost half in 1959. The race only lasted at one mile and four furlongs for four years and in 1963 was extended to the current distance of just shy of two miles (one mile, seven furlongs and 209 yards to be precise).
Racing fans got a taste of things to come when the race was moved from the Cambridgeshire Meeting at Newmarket to their Champions Day fixture. Therefore, leading connections were used to viewing the race as the stayers’ championship race before it adopted the Long Distance Cup name in 2011. That change saw the prize money skyrocket to £500,000 in 2018 and in 2014 the race was promoted to Group 2 level.
END OF SEASON CONDITIONS MAKE A DIFFERENCE
The nature of the British Champions Long Distance Cup hasn’t changed much over the years in that it has always been a race for the very best stayers. The nature of horse racing has changed though so this is now a race for specialist stayers.
That’s the case even with the three-year-olds who compete thanks to the increasingly specialist nature of the St Leger so it is very unlikely we’ll see a horse of the versatility of 1905 winner, Pretty Polly, winning the Long Distance Cup in the future. Her win in what was then the Jockey Club Cup came two years after completing the Fillies’ Triple Crown and also won top class races over what are now considered sprint trips which is way beyond the capabilities of those who now line up at Ascot.
As the Long Distance Cup comes towards the end of the British flat racing season and follows such a well set out group of races there is always some excellent recent form for punters to go through. That form must be viewed with the caveat of conditions though as softer ground and inclement weather may hamper the chances of some horses who have run well earlier in the season.
GOING OF LONG DISTANCE SERIES RACES: 2015 TO 2019
|Yorkshire Cup||Good to Firm||Good to Firm||Soft||Good to Firm||Good to Firm|
|Ascot Gold Cup||Soft||Good to Firm||Good to Firm||Soft||Good to Firm|
|Goodwood Cup||Good||Good||Good||Good to Firm||Good|
|Lonsdale Cup||Good to Firm||Good to Firm||Good||Good to Firm||Good to Soft|
|Doncaster Cup||Good to Firm||Good to Soft||Good to Soft||Good||Good|
|St Leger||Good to Firm||Good||Good to Soft||Good||Good|
|Long Distance Cup||TBD||Soft||Soft||Good||Good to Soft|