We’ll beat Kauto Star next time , says Henderson
These things tend to level themselves out in the end.
Just as an unnervingly mild, dry autumn could not last forever, so Nicky Henderson knows that the very best horses in his care will ultimately complete a cycle rendered almost as inexorable by his past champions.
He paraded the latest generation before the cameras at Seven Barrows yesterday, as ragged black clouds still tumbled in the gale that had finally thrashed the trees bare.
Here was Long Run, the champion steeplechaser, taught a memorable lesson by the evergreen Kauto Star at Haydock 11 days ago; and here was Binocular, a former champion hurdler, likewise beaten on his reappearance at Newcastle last weekend.
But while lesser animals in the yard continue in rampant form — to the extent that he won with all seven of his runners the previous Monday — its elite will always reserve their very best for Cheltenham in March.
Both Long Run and Binocular were beaten first time out last season as well, but laid sufficient foundations to proceed to Grade One success at Kempton on Boxing Day.
And Henderson, who had opened his stable on behalf of the meeting's promoters, is satisfied that they will defend their trophies — respectively in the King George VI Chase and Christmas Hurdle — with undiminished verve.
It must be said that Long Run could scarcely have endured a rougher comeback than Kauto Star gave him in the Betfair Chase.
“But if he did have a hard race, he has come out of it very well indeed,” Henderson said.
“He seems very bright and breezy. Of course it was disappointing to see him beaten — but it wasn't a disaster.”
Henderson did indicate that Long Run's rider, Sam Waley-Cohen, would ride a more patient race if the winner is again waiting for them at Kempton.
Either way, he was thrilled by the way Long Run rallied for second after initially dropping away.
Henderson added: “Like Long Run, Binocular will go to Kempton with exactly the same profile as last year. We're not early birds, everyone knows that. There's a long way to go.”