'It was a proper battle' - Trueshan holds on to complete Champions Day hat-trick
Saturday: Qipco British Champions Long Distance Cup, Ascot
Trueshan roared back to form to grab a slice of Qipco British Champions Day history with a tenacious success in the Group 2 Long Distance Cup.
In edging out his Doncaster Cup conqueror Coltrane in the latest Ascot thriller, Trueshan became the first horse to win the same race on Champions Day in three consecutive years.
Trainer Alan King admitted he had been put off his morning corn flakes by newspapers seemingly dismissing the chance of his star stayer. But Trueshan on soft ground at Ascot in October is an irresistible combination and he put defeats at Goodwood and Doncaster behind him in familiar fashion.
"Thank goodness it was the first race because I don't think I'd have got to race four," said King, who looked a little queasy in the winner's enclosure. "I just got a bit down this morning reading the papers. They've suddenly just forgotten about him and [saying] he's gone.
"I felt the pressure today, but for the horse we wanted to get him back and that was a proper battle. Luckily he's got all winter to get over it and so have I!"
It was not the smoothest success of Trueshan's career, with rider Hollie Doyle picking up two separate suspensions totalling five days as she tried to give Trueshan the optimum journey.
The first ban for three days came on the first bend when interfering with the eventual runner-up, while two more days followed as she searched for daylight turning for home to the detriment of Wordsworth.
From there Trueshan and Coltrane went head to head in an epic, with the former only edging ahead deep in the final furlong to win the race for a third time.
"It's great to have him back," added King. "I just think in the Doncaster Cup last time he was remembering Goodwood and wouldn't let himself down. He came to challenge and he went left and then he went right, but he wouldn't go forward and I think he was just feeling things.
"He had a week on the water treadmill which he absolutely loves and it just loosens him up. As you saw today, it's got him back. He had to be at his best because my goodness the second horse kept battling.
"Hollie said at the furlong pole she thought she'd go away and win well, but Coltrane wasn't for stopping and he came back at us. Trueshan had to be right up there to hold him off."
King said he would love to test Trueshan over two and a half miles in the Gold Cup but, after what he has seen this year, will not be tempted to run unless the ground has soft in the description.
"The one thing we've learned is not to run on quickish ground again," he said. "He's not as good on it. As long as we mind him he could be around for a few years yet.
"I just want a very wet June because the one thing I'd love to do is run him in the Gold Cup."
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