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Series spotlight: Long Distance

15 Mar 2017

This week, to coincide with the Cheltenham Festival, we focus on the stayers.

Long Distance

Order of St George lands the Gold Cup. Will he dominate the Long Distance division? Pic: racingfotos.com

The top four stayers of 2016 – Order Of St George, Sheikhzayedroad, Quest For More and Big Orange – will all be back in action this year.

With stars such as Harbour Law, the Ladbrokes St Leger winner, and the stamina-blessed Twilight Payment joining the party, it is a category that promises to pack quite a punch.

When Order Of St George powered to victory in the Gold Cup last June, it seemed he had the potential to dominate the division.

However, he only ran once more in the Series – when below-par QIPCO British Champions Long Distance Cup at Ascot on Champions Day.

The Aidan O’Brien-trained colt can be forgiven that run because he had run a mighty race to finish third in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe just 13 days before.

He again appeals as the one to beat in the Gold Cup and it will be a surprise if he is also not aimed at the Qatar Goodwood Cup given that it has been elevated to a Group 1 and is worth £500,000 this year.

Big Orange, winner of the past two renewals of the Goodwood Cup, will not go short of admirers.  Neither will Sheikhzayedroad and Quest For More, who dominated the finish of the Doncaster Cup and Long Distance Cup.

Sheikhzayedroad came out on top each time but Quest For More had earlier taken the honours in the Weatherbys Hamilton Lonsdale Cup at York. He also enjoyed Group 1 glory in France, landing the Prix du Cadran.

Another to keep in mind for the staying division this year is Simple Verse.

The 2015 St Leger winner was not seen to best advantage on Champions Day, when unleashed over 2m for the first time, and remains unexposed over long distances.

THE LONG DISTANCE RACES

May 19: Betway Yorkshire Cup

June 22: Gold Cup

August 3: Qatar Goodwood Cup

August 25: Weatherbys Hamilton Lonsdale Cup

September 15: Doncaster Cup

September 16: The Ladbrokes St Leger Stakes

October 21: QIPCO British Champions Long Distance Cup