Long Run out to 16/1 for Gold Cup after disappointing comeback


Nicky Henderson’s chaser may not be one to write off just yet, but he looked a shadow of his former self when trailing home 41 lengths behind the winner on his seasonal return in Yorkshire.

However Henderson, who has seen it all before in his 35 years as a trainer, reported that the eight-year-old scoped dirty after the Charlie Hall and he has since taken measures to remedy the situation.

The mind doesn’t have to be cast too far back to remember the fantastic return to form of Binocular in the 2010 Champion Hurdle after he had been all but ruled out so all is not lost, and Long Run’s price for the Gold Cup could be an overreaction.

Long Run to win 2014 Cheltenham Gold Cup at 16/1

Long Run made an immediate impression when first landing in the UK from France back in 2009, having arrived with a huge reputation after winning the biggest four-year-old chase in Europe.

Owner Robert Waley-Cohen has always stuck with his son Sam, an amateur rider, as the horse’s jockey and they were touching moments in 2011 when both horse and rider put in the performances of their lives to first win the King George VI Chase and then follow up in the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

However since then the French-bred gelding’s career has stuttered – he has only recorded two more victories – a desperate win over Burton Port in the 2012 Denman Chase and a more meritorious second King George success that Christmas.

The horse has always divided opinion, however there appears to have been a knee-jerk reaction to his Wetherby run. The facts and figures are more telling, as he has won two King Georges, a Gold Cup and been placed in two other Cheltenham runs in the Blue Riband event.

Henderson reports that the next stop will be the King George, for which he is 8/1, and a good run there will see his odds for the Gold Cup shorten significantly.

Harry Topper to win the 2014 Cheltenham Gold Cup at 25/1

Kim Bailey is not a trainer whose name is normally associated with the top races these days, however the performance of Harry Topper in the Charlie Hall suggested that the good times could be returning to the handler’s Gloucestershire yard.

Bailey has been there before, having won the 1995 Gold Cup with Master Oats, although that horse made his way up through the handicap ranks before storming home in March.

That won’t be Harry Topper’s route, as he is now set to skip the Hennessy in November in favour of grade one opportunities, but there are some similarities between the two horses.

Neither is foot-perfect at their fences, but that didn’t stop Master Oats and it didn’t hamper Harry Topper too much at Wetherby, as despite some early mistakes, he still had enough reserves of stamina to fend off Wayward Prince in a driving finish.

That form won’t get pulses racing, however the recent Gold Cup wins of Synchronised, and to a lesser extent Bobs Worth, have demonstrated that grit and determination are equally as important as class when it comes to lifting the top prize in racing.

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