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.
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.
Last Run: 17th October 2020
- Winner: Trueshan
- SP: 11/1
- Trainer: Alan King
- Jockey: Hollie Doyle
Open only to runners aged three and older, this Group 2 event over 2m acts as the long distance final of the British Champions Series and offers an excellent £300,000 in total prize money. The ground at the track is currently described as soft and we’re all set for a brilliant renewal of this popular contest.
|Going||Distance||Grade||Prize Money||Runners||EW Terms|
|Soft||2m||Group 2||£300,000||13 Runners||1/5 1-3|
Long Distance Cup Betting Tips
Note: The following tips are from 2020. Tips for the next renewal will be added once the final declarations have been made.
With three previous wins in the race apiece, it is the British and Irish heavyweights John Gosden and Aidan O’Brien who boast the best record of the trainers on show this year. Gosden relies on 2018 champ and 2019 runner up, Stradivarius, whilst O’Brien sends Broome, Dawn Patrol and Sovereign into battle.
The three year old contenders receive a helpful 8lb allowance from their elders in this race, but that hasn’t stopped every renewal since 2008 falling to a runner aged four or older. Will either of Dawn Patrol or Max Vega be able to buck that trend this time around?
There have been only two winners return a double figure SP in this in the past 10 years, but the race nevertheless hasn’t been too kind to supporters of the market leader. Just two winning jollies over this period has resulted in a level stakes loss of -£6.20. We have an odds-on favourite this year but will the brilliant Stradivarius fall foul to the negative trend here?
|Stradivarius||8/11||125||John Gosden||Frankie Dettori|
|Search For A Song||6/1||116||Dermot Weld||Oisin Murphy|
|Dawn Patrol||8/1||109||Aidan O'Brien||Pierre-Charles Boudot|
Stradivarius – 8/11
As has been the case in the vast majority of the top class events for stayers for the past few seasons now, the one they all have to beat - both according to the betting market, and the official handicapper - is John Gosden’s stayer supreme, Stradivarius. It would take a brave punter to oppose him and he is clearly a worthy favourite but is 8/11 decent value?
8lbs clear of his rivals on official ratings, he still comes out best at the weights even after the three year old and fillies’ allowances are taken into account. He also goes pretty well at Ascot with career form figures at the Berkshire venue of 1311121 – with three of those wins coming in the Ascot Gold Cup, and the other in this race in 2018.
His career stats would suggest that he may want quicker ground than this to be seen at his absolute best, but considering he won a soft ground Gold Cup this year by a yawning 10-lengths, it’s pretty hard to argue that he won’t act on the surface. Beaten just a nose by Kew Gardens in the race last year, he may prove tough to stop if over his exertions when finishing seventh in this year’s Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe two weeks ago.
Search For A Song – 6/1
This prize has fallen to an Irish trainer in six of the past nine seasons, and whilst Aidan O’Brien sends three to post, the biggest Irish threat this year – at least according to the betting market– comes in the shape of the Dermot Weld representative, Search For A Song. At odds of 6/1 he will have his backers, especially for those who don’t fancy an odds-on favourite who disappointed last time out.
Master trainer Weld has tasted success in major events all around the world, including two previous triumphs in this race, and will have high hopes of joining O’Brien and Gosden on three successes with this daughter of Galileo. Pretty lightly raced for a four year old, she will be making only her 10th career start here, but has already achieved plenty in those nine previous outings.
Successful in the 2019 Irish St. Leger, when seeing off non-other than Kew Gardens, she then followed up in that Group 1 1m6f event when coming home two lengths clear of the re-opposing Fujaira Prince in this year’s edition. There are however a couple of questions she needs to answer here. Firstly, she is yet to race on anything slower than yielding ground, and secondly she will be stepping up to 2m for the first time. There is no doubt that she’s a very talented filly though, and if handling the change in trip and ground conditions, she looks likely to go very well.
Dawn Patrol – 8/1
And of course we mustn’t forget Aidan O’Brien. Of his trio of contenders, both Broome and 2019 Irish Derby winner Sovereign, do look interesting, but have more to prove in this type of contest than the three year old, Dawn Patrol. There is lots to like about this one and at 8/1 he may just be the value option here.
By Galileo, and a half-brother to Epsom Derby winner, Pour Moi, this one has plenty of class in his pedigree and, whilst he hasn’t quite delivered over middle distances – although he was third in this year’s Irish Derby – he may yet find his niche in the staying division. A running on sixth in a good ground St. Leger at Doncaster two starts back offered plenty of promise, and he duly made his way into the winner’s enclosure when stepped up to this trip for the first time last time out at the Curragh.
This is a rise in class from that Group 3 event, but he did do it really nicely that day – looking all about stamina in powering home for a ¾l success, and still appearing to have a good bit left in the tank. He wouldn’t be as quick as some of these should this be falsely run, but with at least a couple of likely pacesetters in the field – including stablemate Sovereign – we see this turning into a real test of stamina, which ought to suit him well.
Long Distance Cup Winners
|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|
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 though it dropped to £450,000 in 2019 and £300,000 in 2020. 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: 2016 TO 2020
|Yorkshire Cup||Abandoned||Good to Firm||Good to Firm||Soft||Good to Firm|
|Ascot Gold Cup||Soft||Soft||Good to Firm||Good to Firm||Soft|
|Goodwood Cup||Good||Good||Good||Good||Good to Firm|
|Lonsdale Cup||Good||Good to Firm||Good to Firm||Good||Good to Firm|
|Doncaster Cup||Good||Good to Firm||Good to Soft||Good to Soft||Good|
|St Leger||Good||Good to Firm||Good||Good to Soft||Good|
|Long Distance Cup||TBD||Good to Soft||Soft||Soft||Good|