Run Gold best 'by some way' for Henderson
Long Run was labelled by Nicky Henderson today as easily his greatest chance of winning an elusive totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup.
Robert Waley-Cohen's six-year-old has already fulfilled one of his trainer's burning ambitions in providing him with a first King George VI Chase at Kempton last month.
The 5-1 second-favourite with the sponsors, Long Run's main challenge will be to improve on his record at Cheltenham, having finished third on his only two course visits in the RSA Chase and last November's Paddy Power Gold Cup.
But Henderson brushed off those fears at his Lambourn stables this morning.
"He's my best by quite a long way, I suspect," said Henderson.
"Marlborough (fourth in 2002) was knocking on the door a bit and I suppose he was as close as we've been to having a Gold Cup horse. We just haven't had one."
Reflecting on Long Run's previous outings, Henderson said: "Nothing went right for him in the RSA last year and we had an inkling the week before in his coat and his whole demeanour, he'd just suddenly gone. But at the moment everything is going well.
"The priority of the season was Kempton because nobody denies that Kempton, on what we had seen when he won the Feltham, was the perfect place for him.
"But what was so good about Kempton was the rhythm and I don't see why he shouldn't get into that at Cheltenham.
"The reason why he didn't in the Paddy Power was that two miles and five in a competitive handicap just got him out of his comfort zone.
"We've worked on that quite a lot and we've another session with (horse guru) Yogi Breisner next week.
"I'm not worried about Cheltenham. It had been a long campaign before the RSA. He's very young for a Gold Cup horse but there's nothing else you can do and he stays."
Long Run and stablemate Riverside Theatre finished first and second in the King George, with four-time Kempton hero Kauto Star only third.
But Henderson warned the champion could be back, adding: "You have to accept that wasn't Kauto Star anywhere near his best - they can't both beat him like that because Kauto at his very best at Kempton was awesome.
"If Kauto Star turns up like he was in the King George the year before, he is still the horse we've all got to beat."