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."
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