Long Run Back to Winning Ways
1 Long Run 4/7F
Long Run got back to winning ways in the Betfair Denman Chase at Newbury - but he was pushed all the way by stable companion Burton Port.
The 4-7 favourite, ridden by Sam Waley-Cohen, settled beautifully behind the front-running The Giant Bolster and jumped far more professionally than he had so far done this season. With no Kauto Star in opposition, he looked far more at ease and went to the front at the second-last.
But as the approached the final fence, Burton Port challenged on his outside, and What A Friend came up Long Run's inner. A huge leap saw Nicky Henderson's Gold Cup winner go two lengths clear, but he began to idle, allowing Burton Port, returning from a long absence, to close to within half a length.
"We took the earplugs out, but I'm not sure that made a big difference. In a funny way, he felt like a different horse altogether today. In the paddock he was more alert and looking more up for it and he's just gone out there and done it really well.
"We went a right good gallop and, if anything, I think we've learnt how to set him up for a fence when you are going that big quicker."
The jockey's father and winning owner, Robert Waley-Cohen, added: "It's a huge relief. We were giving a lot of weight to some very good horses. He did it really well and jumped absolutely fantastically. Hopefully we can do away with the careless jumping now for the rest of his career. I couldn't be happier.
"Does he need to improve to beat Kauto Star? It's hard to tell. It's a different trip. He beat Kauto Star last year, maybe it's a different Kauto Star that's going to turn up this year. On that performance you would say Long Run and Kauto Star are the two that are going to be battling it out up the famous hill at Cheltenham."
Henderson said: "Sam said there was loads there and he was enjoying himself. He jumped great and he's taken him there tanking on the bit. He was much more fluent today."
The Seven Barrows handler added of runner-up: "This horse has been amazing for us all. He will run in the Gold Cup as well and he's been working completely differently to two years ago. He's a stone better than he ever was before."
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