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Prescott hoping St Michel can book flight to Melbourne in Style

23 Aug 2017

A total of nine stayers declared for Friday's Group 2 Lonsdale Cup

St Michel, trained by Sir Mark Prescott, will seek to continue his remarkable rise up the staying ladder by winning the £200,000 Weatherbys Hamilton Lonsdale Cup Stakes at York on Friday (2.25). The Group 2 contest, run over two miles and 56 yards, is the fourth race in the Long Distance category of the QIPCO British Champions Series.

The four-year-old was beaten off a mark of 69 in a handicap at Musselburgh last summer but is now rated 43lb higher. His best effort in 2016 was when finishing third behind Sheikhzayedroad in the Doncaster Cup and he showed he was again going to be a force this term when a head runner-up in the Grade 3 Belmont Gold Cup Invitational Stakes at Belmont on his latest start, in early June, under Irad Ortiz Jr.

“I heard the jockey criticised the other day but I thought he gave him a good ride and that we had every chance,” Prescott said. “It was a very good run on fast ground. Two miles around York will be fine for him and if all goes well on Friday he will go for the Melbourne Cup. He would go into quarantine on September 14.”

St Michel carries the colours of the late John Pearce, who died aged 98 in March. After successfully escaping from a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp in Hong Kong in the Second World War, Pearce became an acclaimed bloodstock breeder and owner. “It’s such a shame Mr Pearce, who bred and owned him, is no longer with us but his nephew and executors are keeping them [his horses] going to a point,” Prescott said.

Dartmouth, owned by Her Majesty The Queen, already has a QIPCO British Champions Series win at York on his CV, having won a thrilling renewal of the Betway Yorkshire Cup at York in May. His task is heightened, however, by a 3lb penalty.

Sheikhzayedroad is a dual QIPCO British Champions Series winner, courtesy of his victories in the Doncaster Cup and QIPCO British Champions Long Distance Cup, and, in common with High Jinx, winner of the 2014 Qatar Prix du Cadran winner, boasts Group 1 winning form.

Dal Harraild won a Listed race over 1m6f at York in May and William Haggas, his trainer, has been looking forward to unleashing him over Friday’s longer distance. He would have run him in the Goodwood Cup this month but for an untimely minor setback the day before the race.

Montaly, winner of the 188Bet Chester Cup in May, and Higher Power, who landed the Stobart Rail Northumberland Plate at Newcastle the following month, have between them won two of the year’s biggest staying handicaps.

The nine-runner field is completed by Prince Of Arran was runner-up in the Group 3 Longines Sagaro Stakes at Ascot in May, and the Willie Mullins-trained Thomas Hobson. Mullins won the 2015 Lonsdale Cup with Max Dynamite.