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Ed Dunlop cautious as Trip To Paris gets back on staying trail

18 Aug 2016

Trainer wary that his Gold Cup winner is having his first run back over long distance following tendon injury

Trip to Paris  is looking to get his season back on track after a long-term injury. Picture: Racingfotos.com

Ed Dunlop is relishing unleashing Trip To Paris back over two miles in the £200,000 Weatherbys Hamilton Lonsdale Cup at York on Friday but fears his star stayer may lack a bit of “match practice”.

Last year’s Gold Cup winner subsequently ran excellent races to make the frame in the Qatar Goodwood Cup, BMW Caulfield Cup and Emirates Melbourne Cup but then suffered a tendon injury when failing to figure in the Japan Cup in late November. It was thought Trip To Paris might have to miss the whole campaign but the five-year-old has been nursed back to full health and delighted his trainer when third in the Listed bet365 Stakes over a mile and a quarter on his comeback at Newbury last month.

“He’s not a slow, slow stayer if that makes sense but it was still a very pleasing run,” Dunlop said. “We brought him back gently and carefully after his injury and he was not wound up for the occasion. It’s well documented there have been health issues with horses in Newmarket having coughs and colds but Trip To Paris seems very healthy and has passed all the tests so far. We’ve been pleased with him since his run and, touch wood, he’s had no issues going into the Lonsdale Cup. He still shows his enthusiasm and looks to have retained the ability he showed last year. He’s where we want him.”

On official ratings, Trip To Paris has between 3lb and 13lb in hand of his rivals in the fourth race in the Long Distance category of the QIPCO British Champions Series but Dunlop says it is not that straightforward.

“It’s his first run back in a staying race after a tendon injury, so there’s always that in the back of one’s mind, but he he’s had a very clear run, looks very well and is a fresh horse,” he said. “If he hadn’t had an injury then, yes, you would say he should be a short-priced favourite but he lacks a bit of match practice.”

He added: “Friday is about bringing this horse back after a serious injury and learning more about how we are getting on with him.”

Future plans for Trip To Paris remain undecided but another crack at the Melbourne Cup has not been discounted. “He has an entry in the Caulfield Cup, the QIPCO British Champions Long Distance Cup, the Irish St Leger and the Melbourne Cup is under consideration,” Dunlop said. “He’s in all the right races but we will let the horse tell us where he should go.”

His six opponents include Pallasator, who won last season’s Socialites E-Cigarettes Expert Doncaster Cup and ran right up to his best when chasing home Big Orange in the Qatar Goodwood Cup last time. On the latter occasion he finished ahead of Wicklow Brave (fourth), Quest For More (sixth), Suegioo (eighth) and Curbyourenthusiasm (tenth).

Clever Cookie has already struck in the Long Distance category of this year’s Series, having landed the Betway Yorkshire Cup at York in May. He was fourth in the Lonsdale Cup 12 months ago, when sent off 3/1 favourite, and is seeking a fifth course win.