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."
24 July 2014Kennedy floored on Leopardstown bow
Kennedy floored on Leopardstown bow
Candy sweet on hot-shot Alonsoa
BHA confirms seventh morphine case
Big guns in Irish Champion frame
Duo added to Irish Leger
Carroll 'surprise' at morphine link
Farraaj sidesteps York return
Classy entries for Champagne
Stars align for Sussex showdown
Kiyoshi dips in grade for Valiant
Gosden waits on Eagle call
Horsted heads International runners
Two more trainers in morphine case
Top field seek George glory
Midgley delivers Silva service
Trainer caught up in morphine case
Lyons takes aim at Tyros double
Sunset shines for Her Majesty
Raydara facing Flash test
Prize boost for Newmarket heats
Field pitch perfect for Ascot raid
Gosden team among Leger entries
Goodwood target for Tropics
23 July 2014Feed company launches investigation
Toast team offer American excuse
Galway on Panama agenda
Panther sidesteps George date
Toast team offer American excuse
Hughes' duo primed for Plate
Cooper hearing concludes
Edison set for Galway glory bid
Ferguson plotting Galway raid
Queen's Estimate tests positive
Moonlight shines at Musselburgh
Taghrooda could go off favourite
Signal pointed at Phoenix
Course specialist in Ascot return
Bary plots Arc route for Spiritjim
Charlton weighs up Kazeem options
Varian seeking York glory
High hopes for Odeliz
22 July 2014Strangeway targets Galway riches
Grade One status for Mares' event
Halford retains Certerach faith
HRI unveil 2015 plans
Buick on Ascot weather watch
Minella to take Plate test
Scudamore banned for course blunder
Toscanini team mull options
Faydhan team in no rush
Fast Kaar given Dewhurst target
Pique Sous confirmed for Galway
Hannon team cool on Nunthorpe bid
Channon excited by Amralah progress
Haggas expects Hanagan to ride Tag
21 July 2014Ebor the Clever choice for Cookie
Deauville mission for Fiesolana
Chicquita in Yorkshire Oaks frame
Magical Moore shines again
Kool result for Hannon
Guest considers Memory options
Euro stays with Botti
Ascot on Moohaarib agenda
Injury blow for Boistron team
Encke set for Glorious return
No hurry for Tiggy target
No rush for East aim