Belfast Telegraph

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Long heading for Festival target

Long Run is likely to go straight for the totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup following his impressive victory in the William Hill King George VI Chase at Kempton.

No horse as young as six has captured chasing's blue riband since Mill House in 1963, but the Nicky Henderson-trained French import could now try to emulate him.

The Ryanair Chase had been mooted as an alternative at the Festival for Long Run, but owner Robert Waley-Cohen admits the Gold Cup has to be on the cards after he summarily dismissed rivals that included four-time King George hero Kauto Star.

"I would think we would find it hard to resist going for the Gold Cup. He probably won't run again before then," said Waley-Cohen.

"We probably lost a race in between because of the three-week delay, otherwise he might have gone for the Aon Chase.

"He'd been kept on the buzz a long time and Nicky was saying on Saturday night he might calm him down for a couple of weeks and go straight to Cheltenham.

"I think he'll stay. He didn't seem to be running out of stamina on Saturday. You need plenty of stamina to win that race because they go pretty quick and there's no time for a breather. There's no mercy out there."

Long Run's only two defeats in this country have come at Cheltenham but the owner believes there were valid excuses both times.

"He hasn't quite lived up to expectations in two runs. It was right at the end of the season in the RSA Chase when he finished third after he'd been running in serious Grade One races since the previous May," Waley-Cohen added.

"In the Paddy Power, he was third carrying a big weight and, in fairness, Nicky's horses weren't winning at that time."


From Belfast Telegraph