Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Long Run to debut at Haydock


Tagged under: 3.20 Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup Steeple Chase 3m 2 1/2f

Trainer Nicky Henderson has revealed Gold Cup hero Long Run could have three outings before defending his chasing crown at the 2012 Cheltenham Festival next March.

Six-year-old Long Run will make his seasonal debut in the Betfair Chase at Haydock Park on November 19th before heading to Kempton for the King George VI Chase on Boxing Day and could run in the AON Chase at Newbury in preparation for the 2012 Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Speaking about Long Run’s schedule at a media gathering on Thursday, Henderson said: "We want to start in the Betfair, which is a relatively new race, as it is ideally placed in the calendar before the King George. I want to win the Betfair and then the King George.

“He will be wound up the best we can but the horses might be a bit behind because of the dry weather we have had. I hate looking further forward than one race at a time but if we wanted a race between the King George and the Gold Cup then the AON Chase would be the obvious one.”

Long Run and his jockey Sam Whaley-Cohen will continue to work on improving the champion’s jumping and will return for more schooling with jumping guru Yogi Breisner, the performance manager of Britain’s three-day-event team.

"It is just about getting his technique right - before last season there were plenty of doubters about whether his jumping was accurate and neat enough for English fences but the doubters have wilted a little bit after the King George and the Gold Cup but we have got to keep working at getting Long Run into our style of jumping fences and away from the French style. His jumping tends to be little bit French at times. Yogi is a big help to the horses and the jockeys,” explained the trainer.

Long Run is widely available at odds of 5/2 to retain his Cheltenham Gold Cup crown and looking at potential challengers Henderson singled out Master Minded. Paul Nicholls’ charge was upped in trip to win the Grade 1 Melling Chase at Aintree’s Grand National meeting in April and will be aimed at the big three-mile races this season.

Master Minded disappointed when finishing last of three on his seasonal debut at Aintree last week but that run did not sway Henderson’s view, he told the media: "You'd have to say Master Minded would be the standout opponent that I really would be frightened of. I can't believe that he was right the other day. Surely stamina won't be a problem.”

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