The Long Distance Cup is a 2-mile race for 3YO+. It is the category finale for the Long Distance races in the British Champions Series which are:
LONG DISTANCE RACES SCHEDULE
MAY: 1m 6f Betway Yorkshire Cup, £165,000 at York
JUNE: 2m 4f Gold Cup £400,000, at Royal Ascot
AUGUST: 2m Qatar Goodwood Cup, £500,000 at Goodwood
AUGUST: 2m Weatherbys Hamilton Lonsdale Cup, £200,000 at York
SEPTEMBER: 2m 2f Doncaster Cup, £100,000 at Doncaster
SEPTEMBER: 1m 6f St Leger Stakes, £700,000 at Doncaster
OCTOBER: 2m QIPCO British Champions Long Distance Cup, £350,000 at Ascot
HISTORY OF THE RACE
Established in 1873 as the Jockey Club Cup, this race was run at Newmarket until 2011, when it was moved to Ascot and renamed the QIPCO British Champions Long Distance Cup. With two demanding miles (3,200 metres) of Ascot’s famous turf to negotiate, it provides a thorough test of stamina for Flat racing’s top stayers as they contest the final major long-distance race of the British season.
The seven races in the QIPCO British Champions Long Distance category vary in distance from the extended mile and six furlongs (2,920 metres) of Doncaster’s St Leger to the two and a half miles (4,000 metres) of the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot. The intermediate two-mile trip of the QIPCO British Champions Long Distance Cup therefore provides the perfect distance for the category finale.
At £350,000, second only in value amongst Europe’s staying races to the Gold Cup itself, the race had been dominated by Irish challengers in its first four years at Ascot before Frankie Dettori and John Gosden each claimed a first victory at QIPCO British Champions Day in 2015 in the race with Flying Officer.
PAST WINNERS OF THE QIPCO BRITISH CHAMPIONS LONG DISTANCE CUP (GROUP 2)
Year – Horse – Jockey – Trainer
2011 – Fame And Glory (pictured) – J. Spencer – A. O’Brien
2012 – Rite Of Passage – P. Smullen – D. Weld
2013 – Royal Diamond – J. Murtagh – J. Murtagh
2014 – Forgotten Rules – P. Smullen – D. Weld
2015 – Flying Officer – L. Dettori – J. Gosden
2016 – Sheikhzayedroad – Martin Harley – David Simcock
LONG DISTANCE CONTENDERS IN 2017
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 such as Harbour Law, the St Leger winner, and the stamina-blessed Twilight Payment joining them – not to mention Dubai Duty Gold one-two Vazirabad and Beautiful Romance – 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, despite a comeback defeat at the hands of the Jessica Harrington-trained Torcedor in the Coolmore Vintage Crop Stakes at Naas, 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 nish 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, but she remains unexposed over long distances.
Also, remember Flying Officer in the second half of the season. He won the Long Distance Cup on QIPCO British Champions Day in 2015 and that is again likely to be on his schedule.