A disappointing start to the 2023 season left Alan King's top stayer Trueshan at a crossroads in his career but he now appears back on his A-game.
The Barbury Castle handler seemed perplexed following the Sagaro Stakes at Ascot in early May and there was even talk of going over hurdles.
Trueshan returned from a high summer break to win a Doncaster Cup and a second Prix Du Cadran at Longchamp.
At seven, he is back amongst the leading stayers on the Flat but connections might still be tempted to explore the National Hunt route in the future.
|What||Long Distance Cup|
|Where||Ascot Racecourse, Berkshire|
|When||1.25, Saturday 21st October, 2023|
|How to watch||bet365 live Sports Streaming, ITV, Sky Sports Racing|
|Odds||Kyprios 6/4, Trueshan 5/2, Courage Mon Ami 5/1, Coltrane 7/1, Emily Dickinson 8/1, Sweet William 9/1|
Trueshan raced just once as a juvenile and cut little ice in a Nottingham maiden over the extended mile, but he made some fine strides forward during a five-race campaign in 2019 as a three-year-old.
That season yielded four wins and a second, with the highlight coming at Newmarket in October when he landed the bet365 Old Rowley Cup in clear-cut fashion off a mark of 93.
When racing resumed in the summer of 2020 he was held in a Listed race over 1m4f at Newmarket in June before scoring in the same grade at Haydock the following month.
It was the autumn of that year when he made his big breakthrough, landing the Long Distance Cup on Champions Day at Ascot by some seven-plus length from Search For A Song as the great Stradivarius was tailed off in rear.
The 2021 term began with a close second behind Japan in the Ormonde Stakes at Chester and an honourable run the Northumberland Plate at Newcastle, finishing sixth of 20, before a fantastic hat-trick of wins arrived.
The Goodwood Cup provided a first victory at Group 1 level in fine style and then another success followed at Longchamp's Prix du Cadran over two-and-a-half-miles as Trueshan made the most of soft conditions to hold off Stradivarius by more than four lengths.
A fortnight later and it was a similar outcome as John Gosden and Frankie Dettori had no answer with Stradivarius in the Long Distance Cup back at Ascot.
Trueshan had established himself as one of the best stayers of his era, especially when he got his favoured conditions.
Successful in a Nottingham Listed race on his comeback in April 2022, Trueshan took aim at the Northumberland Plate for the second time in his career on his second start.
Rhys Clutterbuck had claimed 5lb the year before but, this time, it was Hollie Doyle on board in spite of the fact the now 120-rated Trueshan was carrying top-weight of 10st 8lb in this fiendish Tapeta test.
Doyle and Trueshan defied some trouble in running and overhauled Spirit Mixer late on for an epic win, conceding two-stone to the runner-up in a performance hailed by all that witnessed it as he became the highest-rated winner of a handicap race in Britain.
Many had viewed the Newcastle race as a mere prep for later summer targets.
Next stop was Glorious Goodwood and a close third behind Kyprios and Stradivarius in a Goodwood Cup cracker.
A hard race on good ground may have taken its toll as he was turned over at odds of 2/9 in the Doncaster Cup by Coltrane, before exacting some revenge on that rival in completing a trio of Long Distance Cup wins at Ascot on Champions Day.
Those tough races last summer may have left a mark on Trueshan. Back as a seven-year-old, he was defeated on his comeback in that same Listed event at Nottingham by Rajinsky before labouring to fourth behind Coltrane in the Sagaro at Ascot soon after.
That left King very much perplexed about where to go next, with midsummer ground conditions once more scuppering attempts to get to an Ascot Gold Cup.
Big races at Glorious Goodwood and York were also sidestepped and so, at Doncaster in September, he was as big as 10/3 to get back on track – his biggest SP since a failed crack at the Ebor in 2020.
On Town Moor, he roared back to life under Doyle, beating promising 4YO Sweet William by a length-and-a-quarter as favourite Coltrane caved in.
Victory at Longchamp followed, his second career win in that Cadran over two-and-a-half-miles and Trueshan is 5/2 to win a fourth Long Distance Cup at Ascot on British Champions Day on Saturday 21st October.
The hurdles option remains in the background and he is priced at 33/1 for the Supreme Novices' Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in March 2024, while he also features at 33/1 for the Ballymore over a longer trip in the Cotswolds.