By Andy Stephens
Sheikhzayedroad won both races last year and David Elsworth, the trainer of Desert Skyline, expects his progressive three-year-old gelding to make a bold bid to emulate him.
“He’s come out of his win at Doncaster fine and we are looking forward to running him on Champions Day,” Elsworth said. “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 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 to land the Doncaster Cup.
Desert Skyline keeps on stoutly to land the Doncaster Cup (FocusInRacing).
“Three-year-old stayers have to go through the pain barrier and when he went to go first time [at Doncaster] he thought ‘I can’t do this because it hurts’ 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.”
Thirty-one remain engaged in the Long Distance Cup after the latest forfeit stage, including Big Orange and Order Of St George. The pair had an epic duel in the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot in June, with the former prevailing by a short head.
Sheikhzayedroad is on course to try and defend his crown, while John Gosden is hoping Stradivarius can give him a second success in the race, having won it with Flying Officer in 2015.