Race one 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.
As with other races on British Champions Day, this race was created from a previous contest. The Long Distance Cup was originally the Jockey Club Cup which first ran in 1873 at Newmarket.
A number of horses have won this race on multiple occasion though none have been more prolific than Further Flight who was victorious in this race for an incredible 5 years in a row between 1991 and 1995 for trainer Barry Hills and jockey Michael Hills.
Long Distance Cup Course Map (Flat Course)
The 2m British Champions Long Distance Cup begins at around the 3f marker on the home straight. Runners pass the post for the first time before completing a full circuit with three right-hand turns.
Long Distance Cup Past Winners
|2021||Trueshan||Evens||Alan King||Hollie Doyle|
|2020||Trueshan||11/1||Alan King||Hollie Doyle|
|2019||Kew Gardens||7/2||Aidan O'Brien||Donnacha O'Brien|
|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|
|2013||Royal Diamond||20/1||Johnny Murtagh||Johnny Murtagh|
|2012||Rite Of Passage||8/1||Dermot Weld||Pat Smullen|
|2011||Fame And Glory||3/1||Aidan O'Brien||Jamie Spencer|
|2010||Tastahill||100/30||Barry Hills||William Buick|
|2009||Akmal||9/4||John Dunlop||Richard Hills|
|2008||Veracity||5/2||Saeed bin Suroor||Frankie Dettori|
|2007||Royal and Regal||2/1||Andre Fabre||Stephane Pasquier|
|2006||Hawridge Prince||6/5||Rod Millman||Jim Crowley|
|2005||Cover Up||20/1||Sir Michael Stoute||Kieren Fallon|
|2004||Millenary||7/2||John Dunlop||Richard Quinn|
|2003||Persian Punch||5/2||David Elsworth||Martin Dwyer|
|2002||Persian Punch||9/2||David Elsworth||Martin Dwyer|
About the British Champions Long Distance Cup
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. 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: 2017 TO 2021
|Yorkshire Cup||Good||Abandoned||Good to Firm||Good to Firm||Soft|
|Ascot Gold Cup||Good to Firm||Soft||Soft||Good to Firm||Good to Firm|
|Lonsdale Cup||Good to Firm (Good in places)||Good||Good to Firm||Good to Firm||Good|
|Doncaster Cup||Good (Good to Soft in places)||Good||Good to Firm||Good to Soft||Good to Soft|
|St Leger||Good to Soft (Soft in places)||Good||Good to Firm||Good||Good to Soft|
|Long Distance Cup||Good to Soft (Soft in places)||Soft (Heavy in places)||Good to Soft||Soft||Soft|