Six long-distance aces to watch out for this season
Friday's Betway Yorkshire Cup, the first long-distance race of this year's British Champions Series, could herald the emergence of a new star on the staying scene or the reaffirmation of an established stalwart. Away from York, here are half a dozen other leading lights over longer trips
Order Of St George
Imperious when winning last year's Gold Cup, Order Of St George oozes quality, highlighted by his third-place finish in last year's Arc behind stablemates Found and Highland Reel. Aidan O'Brien masterminded the career of four-time Gold Cup winner Yeats and added to his tally with Fame And Glory (2011) and Leading Light (2014). Order Of St George is 2-1 favourite for the royal meeting showpiece and it will take an exceptional animal to beat him as he will be trained to the minute.
A new name on the staying scene but, as she proved first time out this season when winning the Group 3 Sagaro Stakes at Ascot, she has more than earned her position at the top table. She could manage only fifth in the Doncaster Cup last season but is a winner of six of her last nine starts, including the Cesarewitch – and has improved again since that effort. Hughie Morrison's mare is on an upward curve and can make her presence felt in big races this season.
Making your presence felt is easy when you're Big Orange. He has a fan club to rival many jumps stars having first found a place in the hearts of the racing public when winning the Noel Murless Stakes in 2014. Not only is he a dual winner of both the Princess of Wales's Stakes and Goodwood Cup, but he has also taken connections to Australia (twice), Dubai (twice) and Hong Kong. Giant in stride and heart, the staying scene wouldn't be the same without him, and it would be a surprise if he couldn't add to his winning tally.
Provided one of the stories of last season when he won the St Leger at Doncaster. Laura Mongan's stable star showed immense stamina to deny Ventura Storm and Housesofparliament that day and, while he trailed in last of seven in the Sagaro won by Sweet Selection, he was carrying a penalty and wouldn't have been fully fit. Harbour Law is young, unexposed and has shown he has what it takes to mix it at this level. Two miles-plus looks sure to suit.
If Big Orange is a veteran of the staying scene, Sheikhzayedroad is practically prehistoric. Aged eight, David Simcock's stalwart is no back number however, proving as much when winning the Doncaster and Long Distance Cups last season. A customary trip to Dubai earlier in the year ended with two admirable third places, proving he is as good as ever. Simcock describes him simply as "very special", and although quirky you'd be hard pressed to argue any different.
Willie Mullins is a dominating trainer in jump racing but has a good record on the Flat too and plans to take his biggest ever team to war this season. Top of the list must be recent Punchestown Champion Hurdle winner Wicklow Brave, who also denied Order Of St George in the Irish St Leger last season. The 2015 County Hurdle winner is as tough as he is versatile and has the talent to figure in this division after a light jumps campaign.