Long Run to beat the understudies before next Kauto Star battle
Long Run will have to beat three of the lesser lights of the Paul Nicholls yard before gaining the chance to seek revenge on Kauto Star in the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
Having dominated the chasing scene last season with victories in the King George and Cheltenham Gold Cup, he has been unable to find a way past a resurgent Kauto Star in the present campaign.
Long Run has chased home his nemesis in both the Betfair Chase and King George and will be hoping its third time lucky at Cheltenham next month.
However, if he is to reign to Cheltenham again, he should beat What A Friend, Tidal Bay and especially Aiteen Thirtythree with relative ease in the Denman Chase at Newbury.
The latter has been out of form on his last two starts and is arguably only running because he is from the same ownership as Denman in Paul Barber.
Tidal Bay ran with credit in the Argento Chase but failed to really challenge Midnight Chase despite receiving weight, while What A Friend may need the run before the Gold Cup having been kept off the racecourse since a minor hurdles outing in October.
There could be as many as 11 runners in the Denman Chase in total and the biggest challenge may be posed by Hennessy Gold Cup winner Carruthers, particularly if he gets a soft lead up front.
Meanwhile, Nicky Henderson’s other runner aside from Long Run, Burton Port, could be a danger if showing no ill effects of more than 14 months off the course.
If Long Run is successful, his current price of 2/1 in the Cheltenham odds to win the Gold Cup is likely to shorten, particularly if the victory is by a substantial distance.