David Elsworth, trainer of the legendary Desert Orchid, believes Long Run is the horse to beat in the William Hill King George VI Chase at Kempton.
Newmarket-based Elsworth is ideally placed to offer comment, having saddled 'Dessie' to four victories in the Boxing Day jumps highlight, and he thinks the Nicky Henderson-trained Long Run, victorious in the race two seasons ago and runner-up to Kauto Star last year, can reclaim his crown.
"Long Run keeps getting his nose rubbed in it. When he won the Gold Cup the season before last, I thought he would be hard to topple for some time. For some reason, which I do not know why, he got beat in last year's King George and has been beaten a few times since," Elsworth told the Daily Star.
"But he ran a hell of race in last year's King George, just beaten over a length. Had he not made a mistake at the last, who knows - he might have beaten Kauto Star.
"I'm not one of those who subscribe to knocking the jockeymanship of his rider, Sam Waley-Cohen.
"Kempton seems to suit the horse. Maybe there's a new star emerging, but I've not seen one."
Elsworth feels the Colin Tizzard-trained Cue Card, who will again be ridden by the trainer's son, Joe, could be the biggest threat to Long Run.
He said: "A horse that would make it exciting is Cue Card. He wears his heart on his sleeve. Last year there was a difference in opinion between his trainer and his jockey as to what was his best trip.
"Joe did not think he stayed three miles and wanted a drop in distance. But he's stronger this year - he would be the danger.
"Then there is, of course, Kauto Stone, Kauto Star's half-brother. He would need to put in an all-time-best performance to win. I don't think there's a horse running in this year's race who is capable of dominating it like Desert Orchid or Kauto Star."
6 July 2015Lightning in hat for Cup run
Fabre favours Bay Deauville date
Goodwood target for Paris
Yarmouth targets August return
Lee hoping for dream training start
Waady enters Haydock equation
Nassau next for Legatissimo
Mahsoob set for Wales's run
Brave team mull jumps option
Sapphire option for Fire
Waller eyeing Beau July glory
'Diamond' Ainippe delights Lyons
Another German Derby for Schiergen
No luck for Geraghty on return
Arc considered for Horn swansong
Tonto earmarked for York date
Pace set for July Stakes
Dods: Angel can embrace joy of six
Kurland set for Newmarket return
Outstanding third in Belmont Oaks
5 July 2015Geraghty unplaced on return
Galway beckons for 'improving' Wood
Mountain set for trip descent
No joy for Postulation in USA
Golden shines in Eclipse victory
Eye sees off Marathon rivals
Blond shows her true colours
Notarised lands Newton prize
Basem proves up to Challenge
Tiana takes Oaks triumph
Waady leads the Charge
Cymro claims Haydock honours
Maria added to Falmouth field
4 July 2015Horn calls the tune in Eclipse
Tiana takes Oaks triumph
Flash fires home
Majestic vies for Fairyhouse rule
Geraghty back in business
Walsh indebted to king Kauto
Angel confirmed Sandown non-runner
Doyle and Johnston shine at Sandown
Johnson scorches to fastest fifty
Windshear up for the Cup
Muhaarar in great form - Hills
Chantilly off the radar for Test
Gatsby sets sights on Horn
Queen aiming to reign in Oaks
Gosden respects Golden rivals
3 July 2015Cyclone set for Leopardstown outing
Waady aiming to step up
Angel major Sandown doubt
Strong Gosden hand at Newmarket
Doyle up for the Challenge
Sandown team mull watering plans
Kazeem on comeback trail
Lennox option for Limato
Magnificent seven for Elliott
Pendleton thrilled with first ride
Balding hoping for Park August run
Kirby unscathed in house fire
Pilot charters path to York
Provenance has claims on Sandown
Soapy out to slay Dragon rivals
Spencer rides Gatsby in Eclipse
Space considered for Ascot return