THE HEADLINES have been dominated by Kauto Star and that notorious schooling fall which may or may not force him to miss the highlight of the entire week.
It will be an absolute shame if the two-time champion isn't back to try and make history as he has appeared as good as ever this year when winning both the Betfair Chase and the King George. However, on both those occasions Ruby Walsh was allowed to dictate his own fractions up front and he certainly won't get his own way in this with Midnight Chase almost certain to force the pace.
If Kauto Star is 100 per cent and recent reports suggests he will, he is likely to run his usual sound race but at 12 years of age, he certainly isn't any faster than he was last year and, with youth on his side, LONG RUN is without doubt the most likely winner and looks poised for revenge.
My guess is that Nicky Henderson is only getting the hang of how to best train Long Run now and he's realised that he is a thorough stayer rather than a speed horse. He chased home Kauto Star at both Haydock and Kempton but both those contests weren't truly run race and the end-to-end gallop of a Gold Cup will be much more to his liking.
The main concern from both of those starts was his jumping, which seemed to have deteriorated from last year but it was much better at Newbury last time and, while he wasn't overly impressive, he got the job done despite giving 10lb to stablemate Burton Port.
That was a much better run than it looked and he is put forward as a confident selection to retain his crown. It seemed as if Burton Port went into every notebook after that Newbury race but the one that caught my eye was What A Friend.
He jumped and travelled beautifully throughout and wasn't given a hard race either. He always runs his race in the Gold Cup and might do so again at a huge price.
Selection: LONG RUN Danger: What A Friend