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."
15 September 2014Dubai on Ansgar radar
Zarkandar skips Ces date
Woodbine double for Simcock
Prowling Panther just too good
Arc shake-up after Treve eclipse
Australia in line for Ascot
Gleneagles in Dewhurst picture
Spirit pips Toronado in Moulin
Moyglare joy for Varian and Atzeni
Stepper proves his point
Tar very much in Blandford
Ectot back with smooth Niel success
14 September 2014Panther romps to Curragh glory
Dettori back on top of the World
Treve beaten in Vermeille
Watchable success for O'Meara
Kingman hit by throat infection
Mirza strikes for Guest and Dettori
Botti on weather watch for Naadirr
Botti hopes for Tac return
We Are nearing return
Dettori hoping to rule with World
Pitt hoping to turn on Max power
Chicquita makes Blandford return
Halford wary of Gleneagles threat
Moyglare glory in Glance sights
Owen looking for Panther to pounce
O'Brien dazzled by fantastic Light
Gatsby guns down Australia
Fantastic Fiesolana bags Matron
Leger glory as Kingston delivers
13 September 2014Bow hits Boomerang target
Eagle soars to Enterprise glory
Toe nails it on the line
Kennedy shows class at Leopardstown
Kingston on top of the Leger Hill
Tamadhor takes Champions opener
Walk in the Park for Ansgar
Magical Muthmir dazzles in Portland
Moon ruled out of Arc
Fast Kaar has Champagne sparkle
Filly foal for Caviar
Harty has grounds for concern
Varian chasing 'huge' Classic prize
Stewart too strong in May Hill
Gallant Estimate takes Cup glory
Stomachion storms to Mallard glory
Glory dashed in Doncaster drama
Tapestry team wary of Matron trip
Esti bubbling for Champagne date
Wizard of Aus takes aim at Champion
Portland a good fit for Intrinsic
12 September 2014Leger go-ahead for Kingston Hill
Treve back for Vermeille test
Noble awarded Saint-Cloud prize
Gosden chasing Leger glory
Leading the Curragh highlight
Kingston a going concern for Varian
Kiyoshi rules supreme in Sceptre
Bond's enjoys big payday
Smooth as Silk in Park Hill
May the force be with Muraaqaba
Glory in flying form for Childers
Times bids for Cup record
Caulfield on Cadeaux radar
Australia heads Champion septet