Kyprios is all set for a clash of the staying Titans in the Long Distance Cup on Qipco British Champions Day at Ascot.
Trained by Aidan O’Brien, Kyprios was the dominant force in the staying division last season, winning the Gold Cup, the Goodwood Cup and the Irish St Leger before a 20-length romp in the Prix du Cadran.
He was beaten by Eldar Eldarov on his return from 11 months on the sidelines when defending his Irish Leger crown last month, but O’Brien expects him to strip much fitter for the run – which he will need to do against Alan King’s Trueshan, who has returned to his best of late and is seeking a remarkable fourth win in this race.
Assessing the comeback run of Kyprios, O’Brien said: “We were delighted with him, he was just barely ready to run at the Curragh and we think he’s made progress since then. He seems in very good form and we’re looking forward to seeing him out again.
“I couldn’t believe he made it back to any race really – I couldn’t believe the day he went out of the parade ring at the Curragh he was actually there.
“If everything goes well he would be a great horse to bring back for Ascot (Gold Cup) next year.”
High-profile stablemate Paddington bids to put the seal on a magnificent campaign in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes.
The Siyouni colt lit up the first half of the season, winning each of his first six races of 2023 including the Irish 2,000 Guineas at the Curragh, the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot, the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown and the Sussex Stakes at Goodwood.
He met with defeat for the first time this year when third behind Mostahdaf in the Juddmonte International at York in August, but having since enjoyed a well-earned mid-season break, O’Brien is hopeful he can show his true colours on Champions Day.
“He’s obviously had an incredibly busy season and turned up in every big race he possibly could have. He’s an incredible horse really, so it was great for us to be able to give him the time and he really appreciated it, we think,” O’Brien told Sky Sports Racing.
“He loves racing and loves work. He’s an unusual horse in that when you build up his work, he starts putting on weight, that’s just the way he is. He loves hard work and he thrives on it.
“He was very impressive in all his races, he’s a good strong traveller and quickens very well and handles all types of ground. We’re looking forward to seeing him out again.”
Paddington was given the option of sticking to a mile and a quarter in the Qipco Champion Stakes, but O’Brien feels he is better suited to the shorter trip of the QEII.
He added: “He goes like a real miler, even though he’s won over a mile and a quarter. I think it was always going to be the QEII for him.”
Unless Paddington is considered for a trip to the Breeders’ Cup in California next month, Saturday could well be his swansong.
“I couldn’t see him staying in training as a four-year-old. He’s a very valuable horse and a very wanted horse at stud, I’d imagine,” O’Brien said.
Jackie Oh is a major contender for the Qipco British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes after being touched off by Blue Rose Cen in the Prix de l’Opera three weeks ago, but her stablemate Point Lonsdale appears to have his work cut out in a red-hot renewal of the Qipco Champion Stakes.
O’Brien added: “We always thought Jackie Oh would stay further and she loves an ease in the ground – it was probably a little bit too quick for her the last day.
“She’d been working very well and progressing every week as the year went on and her last run was probably by far her best run.
“Point Lonsdale ran well in Leopardstown (in the Irish Champion Stakes), he was only beaten just under four lengths, so it was a good run.
“He’s in good form, obviously it’s a very competitive race. We’re hoping that he runs well.”