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 June 2013Perfect Annecdote at Ascot
Godolphin swoop for Libertarian
Doyle hits treble top on Rizeena
Doyle fits the bill in Hunt Cup
Toronado pointed towards Goodwood
O'Brien keeps faith in Camelot
Kazeem crowned Prince of Ascot
Cambridge Dun and dusted
Perfect Ten in Jersey
Plenty of rain needed for Approval
Banoffee pencilled in for Haydock
Classic rematch in Coronation
Guest has excellent chance
Brittain sweet on Rizeena
Team O'Brien hope for perfect Ten
Chigun aiming for Cambridge glory
Camelot bids for redemption
O'Neill ace proves too sharp
Ballydoyle in command in Coventry
Dawn delivers in thriller
Sole powers to sprint glory
O'Brien sounds War cry
18 June 2013Stevens is king of the Castle
Al Thani snaps up Sandiva
Minute's silence remembers Cecil
Duntle on Cambridge duty
Alive and Just in Ribblesdale mix
Passage heads Gold field
Deegan considers Soprano options
Toro out for Palace glory
Cecil's words not lost on Ponsonby
Dawn out for Palace redemption
Hawkwood supplemented for Hardwicke
Flotilla To Drop Back In Trip
Cecil's Chigun in Cambridge action
Al Kazeem and Camelot clash again
De Kock hoping to make history
War ready for Royal Ascot battle
Kingdom set to reign over Ascot
17 June 2013Magician set for Palace showdown
Cat clings on for Carroll
Three more winners for Lady Cecil
Monaghan delivers on Midnight
Treve in stunning Diane win
Sapphire target for Trees
Beckett mulls Secret options
Nicholls has broken wrist
16 June 2013Songbird aiming to fly high
Movie has Newmarket on radar
Fahey juveniles primed for action
Stubbs leads O'Brien Coventry team
Salsify on summer break
Kempton target for Benbulben
Top trio head Palace runners
Shea Shea shoots for Stand glory
Animal heads Queen Anne field
Saint-Cloud aim for Dunaden
Magician to be declared for Palace
Soul all heart in York sprint
Kingsgate rules Musselburgh
Sam too sharp for rivals
Hughes makes it pay with Knight
Balding on mark with double
Morawij in a hurry in Scurry
Bartley is queen for a day
Big guns to clash in Coronation