After a few days considering the alternative option of tackling the Arkle Chase, trainer Nicky Henderson has confirmed that last weekend’s Warwick winner Long Run will join stable companion Punchestowns in the RSA Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, writes Elliot Slater.
Henderson surprised many racing pundits and Supreme Novices betting odds when dropping Long Run down to the minimum trip for the Grade 2 Kingmaker Novices’ Chase, the ex-French star novice chaser having previously won impressively over three miles at Kempton on Boxing Day when handing out a 13 length beating to Tazbar in the Grade 1 Feltham Novices’ Chase.
The trainer’s decision however proved justified as Long Run, despite not always jumping with 100% accuracy, coasted clear at Warwick to win easily and prove just how much speed he possesses as well as the stamina that saw him home at Kempton.
Now that the son of Cadoudal definitely goes for RSA Chase, (the novices Gold Cup), Henderson possesses the two market leaders for the much anticipated race that is also likely to include the smart performers Diamond Harry, Weird Al and Weapons Amnesty. Punchestowns, unbeaten in two starts over fences this term, having last season finished an excellent runner-up to Big Bucks in the Ladbrokes World Hurdle, is a rock solid 3/1 favourite for the race, whilst Long Run can still be backed at 5/1.
Those looking for flaws in Long Run’s armoury have repeatedly highlighted the fact that he still has a rather French style of jumping British fences, a trait that could cause him problems in a championship race against rivals of the highest class.
In France, where Long Run won three of his four steeplechases after being favourite with the Arkle Chase betting odds (including two Grade 1’s), horses tend to brush through the soft birch on the top of the fences. The British obstacles are much firmer and any such liberties can very easily end up with horse and jockey hitting the turf.
Henderson will doubtless be putting Long Run through his paces on the schooling ground and there is every reason to believe that this tremendously talented young horse will acquit himself very well on the big day.
Roll on Cheltenham Festival 2010!!