Grand National a dangerous back-up for Long Run given jumping
Given that jumping has typically been the biggest obstacle holding back Long Run, it is somewhat surprising that Nicky Henderson has indicated that an appearance in the Grand National is a possibility this season, even if it is only a plan B.
Long Run remains 8/1 to win the 2013 Cheltenham Gold Cup and regaining this crown is the leading target for the season.
However, Henderson has already identified a back-up option should Long Run have to miss Cheltenham for whatever reason.
Kauto Star was always fairly predictable in his path to Cheltenham, opening in the Betfair Chase at Haydock, before taking in the King George on Boxing Day and then finishing at the Gold Cup.
This is now the intended path for Long Run as he bids to improve on finishing third last year behind Synchronised and The Giant Bolster.
A collection of minor jumping errors played an instrumental role in the defeat and few would argue that Long Run was the best horse in the field if performing to his level.
No race puts more pressure on jumping than the Grand National and so this certainly represents a big risk when the well-documented dangers of the race are taken into account.
Meanwhile, it is nailed on that as a former Gold Cup winner, Long Run would be top weight at Aintree and not by a small amount.
A return to the former days of Arkle could even be on the cards, with some of the Grand National field even being forced to take part from out of the handicap.
Long Run is currently rated 22lb better than Ballabriggs, who was sent off top weight last year when Neptune Collonges triumphed.
This would logically not seem the wisest option for Long Run and so the hope remains that he makes it to Cheltenham in one piece.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.