Trueshan and Stradivarius stand their gound as epic rematch still on the table
11 Oct 2021
Last year’s runaway winner Trueshan heads a bumper 20 five-day confirmations for the QIPCO British Champions Long Distance Cup, in which Stradivarius may yet make a fifth successive appearance despite connections initially inclining to rule it out after finishing behind Trueshan in the Prix Du Cadran at ParisLongchamp on Arc weekend.
Widely recognised as the outstanding Cup horse of his era, and with a record 15 wins to his name which fall under the QIPCO British Champions Series umbrella, Stradivarius won this race in 2018 but tends to be below his best under autumn conditions and was well beaten 12 months ago.
Trueshan was too good for him in testing conditions in the Cadran, but John Gosden has been encouraged by the weather forecast and is by no means ruling out a quick reappearance.
He said: “We made a mistake running in France on ground which was not what we had been led to expect. On the Saturday they were running on ground that had been used for the Trials and while he ran a valiant race it was just not his ground.
“We very much wish that we hadn’t run there, as it looks as if he will get ground closer to what he wants at Ascot, and with that fresh strip on the inside rail for the first race as they had the rail out at the last meeting. We are not mad keen on coming back after just 14 days, but once it was clear he wasn’t handling the ground Frankie didn’t get after him too much. No decision will be made until well into the week.”
While the drying weather has been welcomed by connections of Stradivarius, it is not what those associated with Trueshan were hoping for. It was testing underfoot 12 months ago when the five-year-old initiated a memorable double for Hollie Doyle by winning impressively by seven and a half lengths from Search For A Song and Princess Zoe, and again when he won the Al Shaqab Goodwood Cup.
Alan King has an alternative option for Trueshan back in France a week later, so needs to be sure he has fully recovered from his exertions and that the ground is suitable before he gives him the go ahead.
He said: “I’ve left Trueshan in and we’ll make a decision on Thursday. We’ll do a bit with him mid-week and see how everything pans out, but I can’t see any rain in the forecast.
“He has only cantered since Longchamp but he looks a picture. The Prix Royal-Oak the following weekend is there if we need it instead, but I’m told there’s not much rain about in France either and I’d prefer to go to Ascot.”
Lightly-raced Hamish is a fascinating contender for the William Haggas stable, stepping up to two miles for the first time after the form of his September Stakes defeat of odds-on Hukum was seemingly massively boosted by the runner-up’s easy subsequent success in Ascot’s Cumberland Lodge Stakes.
Haggas said: “If you want to take the Hukum line at face value Hamish would definitely have a chance. I don’t think we saw Hukum at his best at Kempton, but Hamish is a good horse all the same. The ground might not be as soft as he’d like, but there’s a big difference between summer good and autumn good. It might be a bit quicker up the straight, but not down at Swinley Bottom.
“I also run Roberto Escobarr, who has quite a bit to find but will like the drying ground. He proved last time that he stays and we are going to put cheekpieces on. He’ll be a big outsider but he’s thoroughly likeable and is worth a shot.”
Berkshire Rocco, who has raced just twice this year, is an intended runner for Andrew Balding, who has also confirmed mud lover Morando.
Balding said: “The QIPCO British Champions Long Distance Cup has always been the aim for Berkshire Rocco and we’ve kept him fresh for it. He’s hopefully going to go there in good form and there’s a possibility it might just cut up a bit, as some of them had hardish races in France.”
Princess Zoe, only fifth behind Trueshan when bidding to repeat last year’s win in the Prix Du Cadran, is expected to feature in a typically strong challenge from Ireland, which has been responsible for six of the ten winners of the QIPCO BRitish Champions Long Distance Cup.
Three of those winners were saddled by Aidan O’Brien, who has confirmed Amhran Na Bhfiann, Interpretation, Passion and The Mediterranean this year, and another by Dermot Weld, whose Search For a Song will be bidding to go a place better than a year ago.
Baron Samedi, trained by O’Brien’s son Joseph, is another key contender, having last month stayed on strongly to finish on the heels of Sonnyboyliston and Search For A Song when the latter was bidding to win the Irish St Leger for a third successive year. His stable-mate Master Of Reality is another possible.
Charlie Appleby’s Manobo, who stretched his unbeaten run to four with ParisLongchamp success in the Qatar Prix Chaudenay, has also been confirmed.
Amhran Na Bhfiann (IRE), Baron Samedi (GB), Berkshire Rocco (FR), Fujaira Prince (IRE), Hamish (GB), Master of Reality (IRE), Mekong (GB) Morando (FR), Nayef Road (IRE), Nicholas T (GB), Roberto Escobarr (IRE), Stradivarius (IRE), Trueshan (FR), Passion (IRE) Princess Zoe (GER), Search For A Song (IRE), Interpretation (IRE), Manobo (IRE), Tashkhan (IRE), The Mediterranean (IRE)