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AP to face toughest of tests aboard Benefficient

Tony McCoy will be up against Long Run when Benefficient has his first chasing start of the campaign in the Bet365 Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby this afternoon.

There is decent racing on both sides of the Irish Sea, and the latest edition of this three-mile-one-furlong Grade Two will be as informative as anything.

On his first start since chasing Sir Des Champs home at Punchestown in April, Long Run certainly sets a tall standard.

The brilliant 2011 Cheltenham Gold Cup victor has been third in the last two renewals of the blue riband event, and Nicky Henderson's willingness to get him out early is surely a positive sign.

That said, his heroics in slamming Denman and Kauto Star in that thrilling spectacle two and a half years ago have left him a shadow of his former self.

For all that Long Run continues to grind out decent results, he has become laborious in his performances under Sam Waley-Cohen, so he is opposable at short odds.

Of the other locals, Unioniste and Harry Topper are respected, but both have a preference for testing ground. Conditions today are described as good to soft, and it might be that the combination of a decent surface and a return to this trip could be ideal for Tony Martin's Benefficient.

The only other time that irrepressible perennial champion jockey McCoy rode him before, he tired on deep ground over three miles to give best to Harry Topper in a decent novice chase at Newbury a year ago.

That certainly raised question marks about his stamina, with a fine Grade One win over two miles in the Irish Arkle Chase reinforcing that notion.

Nonetheless, that success came in heavy ground, and he went on to show an abundance of reserves when delivering a famous win over two and a half miles on slow going in the Jewson Chase at Cheltenham in March.

Benefficient then showed the effects of a long season when pulling up at Punchestown, but he remains a sort that might prove to be well suited to these conditions.

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