The Dermot Weld-trained five-year-old lost his unbeaten record in Thursday’s staying showpiece, but was far from disgraced in finishing a close third behind Trip To Paris.
Weld feels the two-and-a-half-mile distance proved beyond his charge and is keen to bring him back in trip for the Leger, a race he has won seven times.
“He was only cruising off the home turn, but when Pat (Smullen) let him down on the firm ground he changed his legs and lost his stride,” Weld told At The Races.
“He’ll be back, he’s a very high-class horse and the trip was probably just a bridge too far.
“I’d say his next race will be one of the prep races for the Irish St Leger.”
Smullen already has one eye on the Long Distance Cup on Champions Day in October, a race Forgotten Rules won last season.
He told Racing UK: “The ground wasn’t ideal, he’s definitely a horse who’s better with a bit more ease in the ground, but to be honest, he never really relaxed in the race with me.
“To go two and a half miles at Group One level and get the distance, you have to get your horse to relax and really switch off and he never really did that with me. He paid the penalty in the last half-furlong.
“I don’t think he needs two and a half miles. I think he’s probably a real two-mile horse with an ease in the ground.
“The boss was saying after the Irish Leger is an obvious race for him and I think he’d run very well in that, but I think the two miles with an ease in the ground on Champions Day back at Ascot is tailor-made for him.”
Meanwhile Weld is confident a step up to a mile and a half is well within range for Free Eagle following his thrilling success in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot.
The son of High Chaparral secured his third win from just five starts and his first at Group One level when narrowly outpointing The Grey Gatsby in Wednesday’s feature event.
He is set to stick at a mile and a quarter on his next start, with the Juddmonte International at York and Leopardstown’s Irish Champion Stakes under consideration, before stepping up in distance for a tilt at the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp in October.
“It was just one of those special days. He’s a very talented horse. Unfortunately a lot of people never got the opportunity to see his real talent, but we’re beginning to see it now,” Weld said.
“We always saw natural talent in him and then we had a chapter of problems, but that’s behind us and it’s onwards and upwards.
“He’s got an excellent Group One now behind his name and hopefully we can go on to more Group Ones with him.
“We haven’t made final decisions yet, but you look at the Juddmonte International, you look at the Irish Champion Stakes and hopefully the Arc would be the final aim for him.
“He’s a very high-class horse over a mile and a quarter, but I have every reason to believe he’ll get a mile and a half.”