Such has been the tremendous progress made in recent weeks by the John Oxx-trained stayer Saddler’s Rock, connections are now seriously considering supplementing the three-year-old for the Qipco British Champions Long Distance Cup at the showcase Ascot fixture on October 15, writes Elliot Slater.

Still a maiden until winning at the third time of asking on June 23 in a 12 furlong contest at Tipperary, the son of the late Saddler’s Wells followed up a fortnight later in a 14-furlong handicap at Leopardstown off a debut mark of 87, before finishing an excellent third (beaten just a length-and-a-half) to Fictional Account and the Ascot Gold Cup winner Fame And Glory in the listed Irish Field St Leger Trial Stakes at the Curragh on August 20. Even those following the Breeders Cup betting will be keeping an eye on his progress.

His Curragh run clearly prompted Oxx to attempt to pres on and strike while the iron is hot, and so he journeyed to Doncaster for another big step up in grade to tackle the Group 2 Stobart Doncaster Cup and put up a tremendous performance to beat Goodwood Cup winner Opinion Poll by four-lengths, despite racing on-and-ff the bridle on a number of occasions and appearing to only be doing as much as was necessary to gain the day.

Now firmly established as one of the hottest staying prospects for next season and almost certain to improve again as he matures into a four-year-old, Saddler’s Rock has come out of the Doncaster in fine shape and his trainer and his owner Michael Flynn are very seriously considering paying the supplementary fee to enter their charge for the big Group 3 race at Ascot, a race that looks set to attract a number of the top stayers from this season’s cup races. The betting suggests it should be a tough contest.

As long as the ground doesn’t turn soft Saddler’s Rock could well prove to be the one they all have to beat.