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Cheltenham Festival 2011 

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By Marc Owen-Banks ValueChecker

Long Run a Serious Contender for Cheltenham Gold Cup

That is the view of jockey Sam Waley-Cohen after he triumphantly partnered Long Run to victory in the King George VI Chase at Kempton on Saturday afternoon.

Long Run

Long Run

Speaking to Attheraces he said, “If he jumps like that [in the King George] then there is no reason why he shouldn't be a serious contender [in the Gold Cup]. He thinks he's a star, and he proved it yesterday, he just has to prove it on the undulations at Cheltenham now”.

Waley Cohen also refused to rule Kauto Star out of the Gold Cup as many of the bookies have done, with prices on the King George third as high as 10/1 for the Cheltenham Festival show piece.

Kauto Star could manage only third on the attempt to win his fifth King George crown. AP McCoy who had earlier celebrated a win in the Christmas Hurdle with Champion Hurdle king Binocular, was in second coming to the second last fence, but Kauto Star really didn't leave the ground and only just got over, McCoy showing his strength and determination managed to stay on board, and although he had no chance with the winner, the blunder cost him second place certainly.

So whilst Kauto Star is considered not ruled out for the big one, Long Run, may still have something to prove at Prestbury Park. He has raced the course twice finishing third on both occasions. Firstly in the RSA Chase last March behind Weapons Amnesty and Burton port, and then again in November when Little Josh led from pillar to post in the BetVictor Gold Cup with Dancing Tornado finishing second, and perhaps it is those undulations that Sam Waley-Cohen mentions that he has to overcome, but come Gold Cup day, we may find we now have Long Run to consider along with the break away three favourites in last years winner, Imperial Commander, who shortened up to 7/2 after Kauto's defeat and as low as 3/1 with , and “The Tank” Denman, who occupies second favouritism.

Long Run has joined the gang and now has to be considered a contender.


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