Nicky Henderson has reasons to believe Long Run can go one better than 12 months ago and make a winning return in the Betfair Chase at Haydock on Saturday.
The seven-year-old was hot favourite for the Merseyside Grade One off the back of his Cheltenham Gold Cup victory seven months earlier, but had to make do with minor honours as a resurgent Kauto Star came back to form in scintillating style.
Long Run again played second fiddle to the legendary chaser in the King George VI Chase and he was only third when defending his Cheltenham Gold Cup crown - but Henderson could not be happier with his charge ahead of his return.
Henderson said: "I'd like to think he's a good bit straighter this year than he was last year. He looks big and he looks fantastic.
"Last year Paul (Nicholls) had Kauto 100% and I thought us being 90% would be enough, but it wasn't. He was probably a bit fresh last year and we got in a boxing match with Kauto, and Kauto punched his lights out.
"It's a shame his first run is going to be in really testing ground, it's not going to tell us everything, but we're getting a run into him and then I have four weeks until the King George."
While the soft ground is hardly ideal, Long Run's owner Robert Waley-Cohen feels there is little option but to let him take his chance.
He said: "The ground is what we've anticipated all week and I think we just have to press on and hope they all handle it.
"I think Long Run is a bit more forward than he was going into the race last year and he is certainly more mature, physically and mentally.
"He's running against good horses on Saturday and they don't just give Grade Ones away, but we're very much looking forward to it."
19 December 2014Master back in the spotlight
Grugy in line to start cantering
Newland seeks more from Re
Prize money boost in HRI initiative
Zig zips to impressive victory
New steroids policy delayed
Serge states Supreme case
Martin readying big guns
Exciting Sceaux out at Fairyhouse
Firebird skips National service
Hobbs on Garde at Ascot
Fry excited by Activial chance
The New One in Haydock return
Reve camp not expecting a hat-trick
King issues Chatez Triumph warning
Bolger searching for Mossey key
King weighs up Karezak options
Henderson hoping Bobs makes Lexus
Simonsig camp play the long game
In-form Mole buries Exeter rivals
Sedgefield hit with heavy fine
Star names check in for Ryanair
Bobs revved up for Lexus repeat
Knott disqualified for three years
Geraghty braced for power Serge
Geraghty excited by Josses return
Activial stars in Ladbroke field
18 December 2014Alvarado back for National service
Winner given Lexus go-ahead
Cheltenham dreams for King's Zero
Sivola bids for Long Walk hat-trick
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Kauto pleases in Olympia display
Mullins eyes twin assault on Lexus
Value oozes class in Newbury romp
Annie Power on road to recovery
Spencer strikes after U-turn
Vautour ready for next jumps test
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17 December 2014Sidelined Brian misses Whittle
Sceaux to sidestep Haydock raid
Square season derailed by injury
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Plans on hold for Topper
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Mulholland makes Master plan
Cango makes Catterick impression
Field sizes under BHA microscope
Quinn outlines Aurore options
Legal laying down the law at Ludlow
Ground dictates Attaglance plans
King heartened by Walkon return
Cross set Christmas conundrum
16 December 2014Pipe bowled over by Palace
Cole to duck Leopardstown mission
Pipe bowled over by Palace
Arbuthnot has Starluck options
Geraghty taken with weekend Heroes
Moore the merrier at Plumpton
Estrella back with a bang
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Lough set for Lexus workout
Sceaux in Haydock frame
Victoire at Ladbroke summit
Five left in Long Walk