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Long Distance Cup preview

Champions Day kicks off with the longest race of all, a curious choice, featuring the cream of local stayers. Look at the line up - an Ascot Gold Cup winner, an Ebor winner, a (English) St Leger winner, Lonsdale Cup & Prix du Cadran winner... this will be a G1 soon.

Stepping up on the first preview of the day is aspiring sports journalist Adam Crooks, @acrooks95.

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QIPCO Long Distance Cup
Group 2, £350k, two miles
Ascot 1345 BST, 2345 AEST
Generic prices quoted from time of writing


The spectacular champions day takes place at Ascot on Saturday as the flat season draws to a close. A superb card, featuring four Group 1s, promises to be a feast of high class racing. The Long Distance Cup kicks the card off, run over two miles. A Group 2 contest, I personally feel this race should be made into a Group 1 for next season. A stellar field has been assembled for the curtain raiser, with a number of high class stayers vying for some of the £300,000 up for grabs.

Market leader is Order Of St George, trained by the master of Ballydoyle, Aidan O'Brien. Winner of the Ascot Gold Cup early this year over two and a half miles, he was then turned over at odds of 7/1 ON in the Irish St Leger. His last race came just 13 days ago in the Arc, were he surprised many by finishing third. That race was over one and a half miles, and many thought he wouldn't be quick enough over the distance, but Frankie Dettori gave him a good ride to grab a place. He has the best form in the book, and is the rightful favourite, with a current price of 10/11. However, I am going to oppose him.

My main concern is the quick turnaround he has to overcome, as I feel he had quite a hard race in the Arc and that may just take the edge of him. Also, in the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot he was in trouble a couple of furlongs from home, before his stamina kicked in and he ended up winning comfortably. I feel he needed all of the two and a half mile trip that day, and in this field i think there may be one or two horses better over the two mile trip.

Second favourite is the filly Simple Verse, the 2015 St Leger winner. A winner on this card last year, she steps up to two miles for the first team here, after a gutsy victory last time out in the Park Stakes at Doncaster. That race was over one mile, six and a half furlongs, and she needed every single yard of that trip to win the race on the line. The step up in trip should suit, and she also gets the fillies allowance in the race, receiving three pounds of the rest of the field. Top young jockey Oisin Murphy is on board, and I expect a big run from her.

My selection however, is a past winner of this race. The Dermot Weld-trained Forgotten Rules won this contest in 2014. A very lightly-raced individual for his age, just nine career starts, we may not know how good he really is. After winning easily in 2014, he was sent off joint favourite to retain his crown last year. He was travelling really well moving into the home straight, before having his passage blocked and getting almost took off his feet by two other horses. This interference ended any hope of him running his true race, and we can only wonder what might have happened if he had a clear passage. He has only been since once since that run, when finishing second in a Listed race in Ireland twenty days ago. That was a very good run off the back of a long absence. He was only caught in the last 100 yards, but the way he travelled so easily into the final furlong suggests he retains his ability, and with race fitness now on his side, he can reclaim his long distance crown.

A couple of horses are of interest at bigger odds, namely Quest For More and Litigant. Quest For More has been in superb form lately, but has had a couple of tough races and this may be one too many. Litigant has been off the track for 343 days, but has a good record when fresh. He finished ninth in this race last year (after winning the Ebor after 565 days off at his previous start), but he had no luck in running at all, being trapped wide and then badly hampered in the final furlong. His winning form has been in top handicaps so far, so he has to prove he has the class for this step up in grade, but at 14/1 is worth an each-way poke.

So hopefully we will be kicking off Champions Day with a winner in the form of Forgotten Rules. I feel he is overpriced at 7/1, and in a race paying three places, is an each-way certainty, and has the class to win.

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