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Elsworth hoping Desert Skyline can go Distance on Champions Day

4 Oct 2017

Newly crowned Doncaster Cup champion on collision course with Ascot rivals Big Orange and Order Of St George

The QIPCO British Champions Long Distance Cup promises to be a fantastic first contest on QIPCO British Champions Day with Big Orange and Order Of St George, set to clash once more after their epic battle in the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot.

The pair are due to line up against two of the new generation of staying horses with Stradivarius, winner of the Qatar Goodwood Cup, and Desert Skyline, the Doncaster Cup victor, also standing their ground.

David Elsworth, the trainer of Desert Skyline, said “He’s come out of his win at Doncaster fine and we are looking forward to running him on Champions Day. It’s a little bit ambitious, but then again so was running him in the Goodwood Cup [where he was third] and Doncaster Cup.

“He’s run a series of good races this year – his Doncaster win coming after a fantastic effort at Goodwood Cup behind Big Orange and Stradivarius. We all know how good Big Orange is and Stradivarius showed his class in the St Leger [when a close third to Capri].

“I think he’s had a fairly tough campaign – opposition-wise rather than the number of runs he’s had – but he is in great form and should again run well. We will pull up stumps afterwards and next year come back and win the Goodwood Cup.”

Elsworth believes that, in terms of self-belief, Desert Skyline will derive great benefit from coming from last to first under Silvestre De Sousa, the Stobart Champion Jockey-elect, to land the Doncaster Cup.

“Three-year-old stayers have to go through a barrier and when he went to go first time [at Doncaster] he thought ‘I can’t do this’ and then suddenly he realised he had them beat. That will be great for his confidence. Next year he will be stronger and more confident – because he will have been round the block.”

The other 27 horses that remain engaged include Sheikhzayedroad, who is on course to defend his crown, and Montaly, who produced a career best to win the Weatherbys Hamilton Lonsdale Cup Stakes at York on his penultimate start for trainer Andrew Balding. He said: “I probably ran him a little bit too soon [last time] in the Doncaster Cup, where he was flat, but the QIPCO British Champions Long Distance Cup looks perfect for him. He loves soft ground and hopefully he will run well there.”

FULL LIST OF RUNNERS

Big Orange (GB), Cap’n (IRE), Clever Cookie (GB), Dal Harraild (GB), Duretto (GB), Idaho (IRE), Laws of Spin (IRE), Max Dynamite (FR), Ming Dynasty (FR), Montaly (GB), Nearly Caught (IRE), Ooty Hill (GB), Order of St George (IRE), Prince of Arran (GB), Red Verdon (USA), Renneti (FR), Sheikhzayedroad (GB), Stars Over The Sea (USA), Thomas Hobson (GB), Torcedor (IRE), Alyssa (GB), Seventh Heaven (IRE), Desert Skyline (IRE), Game Starter (IRE), Mount Moriah (GB), Raheen House (IRE), Stradivarius (IRE), The Anvil (IRE), Uae King (GB), World Stage (IRE), Wild Irish Rose (IRE)