Opposing Kauto Star in the Cheltenham Gold Cup is not easy but Long Run will devour the final climb and Nicky Henderson could not be in better form
Fortunes have fluctuated over the 12 months since Long Run sprinted up the hill to lift the Betfred Gold Cup, but the memory of that performance lives on vividly. He can settle the score with his old foe Kauto Star and take steeplechasing’s most prestigious prize at Cheltenham on Friday.
The justifiable expectation that Long Run may improve even further this season left connections feeling deflated when their pride and joy met with defeat at the hands of his resurgent rival at Haydock and Kempton earlier this season.
However, rather than finding more speed it is stamina that has emerged as Long Run’s greatest asset. He will devour the final climb to the winning post that has seen so many results transformed in past Gold Cups.
Not that opposing Kauto Star is easy, given the way he has turned back the clock so far this season producing bursts of mid-race acceleration that have left his rivals on the ropes.
However, his preparation has not been ideal and, in contrast, Long Run’s performance in beating his stablemate Burton Port at Newbury last month has probably been undervalued. It was the enthusiasm with which he travelled and jumped that was so impressive and the trainer Nicky Henderson could not be in better form.
1.30 Tough, nimble and talented, Grumeti ticks more boxes than most in a wide-open Triumph.
2.05 Trainer Jessica Harrington is delighted to see Citizenship creep in at the bottom of the weights. He still has more to offer.
2.40 Although untried over this searching trip, Boston Bob has thrived for every test placed in front of him so far and could be a class apart from these rivals.
4.00 Stamina will be at a premium in a contest packed with front-runners. Cloudy Lane retains all of his enthusiasm and can bridge the five-year gap since he powered up the hill over course and distance to win the Kim Muir Chase.
4.40 Stopped in his tracks when hampered by a faller in the Betfair Hurdle last month, Empire Levant is higher in the weights than when chasing home Rock On Ruby at Newbury earlier this season, but that form couldn’t look much stronger now.
5.15 Faster ground would be preferable for Eradicate, but he comes into this contest with a most attractive mark after a mixed campaign in novice chases. He has been deliberately kept back for this race since beating a fair rival at Southwell.