Champions Day: Agent Murphy looks tough if he stays trip in Long Distance Cup
Saturday is British Champions Day, Europe’s last big bash of the Flat racing season, with five major events on tap at Ascot. Aside from seeing such stars as Jack Hobbs, Muhaarar, Solow (and theoretically maybe even Gleneagles), there might be a Breeders’ Cup clue or two on offer.
The action starts early if you’re in the Western Hemisphere -- post time is 7:45 a.m. EDT for the opening act, the British Champions Long Distance Cup (G2).
I’m tempted to say that the two-mile test runs through Agent Murphy, who has the look of an exciting improver for Brian Meehan. If he stays the trip, I think he wins. That’s the question, since he has yet to race past 1 3/4 miles. As a son of Cape Cross and three-quarter brother to seven-furlong aficionado Hatta Fort, he doesn’t have an obvious stayer’s pedigree.
But Agent Murphy has class about him. He galloped all over his rivals in the Geoffrey Freer (G3) at Newbury, where he traveled like the winner every step of the way. Although no match for Aidan O’Brien’s sensational sophomore Order of St George in the Irish St Leger (G1) last out, he bested Wicklow Brave for runner-up honors.
Defending Long Distance Cup champion Forgotten Rules was only fifth in the Irish St Leger, but the return to a longer distance, and an easier surface, could see him bounce right back to his best. In his last appearance over this course, the Dermot Weld charge was a gallant third in the Ascot Gold Cup (G1) over ground much too quick for him.
If you’re looking for longer prices, Litigant is the most appealing. Twice a winner over two miles on all-weather last year, the fragile son of Sinndar returned from a 16-month layoff to upset the valuable Ebor Handicap at York August 22. Firm ground prompted his withdrawal from the Prix du Cadran (G1) on Arc Day, but he’ll have no worries on that score Saturday.
Flying Officer could be part of a banner day for the John Gosden yard, while the obstreperous Pallasator, a well-beaten fourth behind Agent Murphy in the Geoffrey Freer, comes off a victory in the Doncaster Cup (G2).