Owner Robert Waley-Cohen hopes a tip-top Long Run can regain his crown in the King George VI Chase at Kempton Park on Boxing Day.
The seven-year-old did not please everyone when beaten by Silviniaco Conti in the Betfair Chase at Haydock last month, but Waley-Cohen felt there were valid reasons for that defeat.
"The race wasn't run to suit at Haydock and the ground was quite tricky for a horse that isn't used to running on that sort of heavy ground," he said.
"We were always worried there wouldn't be enough pace and it might turn into a sprint finish - he was always vulnerable to that - but we didn't want him to leave his season behind in that race.
"It's possible the Gold Cup he won as a six-year-old might have taken a hell of a lot out of him, it might be that Kauto Star was a hell of a good horse last year. He had two very hard races earlier last season and that came home to roost in the Gold Cup.
"I'm a bit disappointed he didn't improve - he had a good summer and we hoped he'd have moved on, but that said he didn't win a Paddy Power off 158 and ended up finishing that season off 182.
"The handicapper has us at 171 after Haydock and I'd hope he would find a bit extra towards the end of the year. He had a quiet week after Haydock, but he's in good order and we hope to have him cherry-ripe for Kempton."
Long Run spearheads 10 horses declared and trainer Nicky Henderson has a more than able second-string in Riverside Theatre, who finished runner-up behind his stablemate in the 2010-11 renewal.
Kauto Stone, a half-brother to five-times King George winner Kauto Star, takes his chance for champion trainer Paul Nicholls.
David Pipe has two contenders in Grands Crus and Junior, who was supplemented for the race earlier in the week. Philip Hobbs relies upon last year's third Captain Chris, while other runners are The Giant Bolster, Cue Card, Champion Court and For Non Stop.
31 October 2014Day to remember for Ellison
Johnson remains under observation
Conti chasing second Charlie Hall
Terror scares Newmarket rivals
Filleule faces Champion test
Terror scares off Newmarket rivals
Sgt far from Reckless at Uttoxeter
Little King wears Down Royal crown
Nicholls goes on Charm offensive
Fishers angling for Wetherby prize
Lavelle star Bec in business
Weld out to break new ground
Osborne ready to 'roll the dice'
Dank bids to sign off on a high
Turf glory in sight for Telescope
Red Ed upbeat about Cadeaux
Aktabantay out of Breeders' Cup
Tearless secures Good Friday ticket
Overnight stay for Johnson
Crawford banks on Izzini progress
Toast could make Spencer think
Road charts route to Royal riches
Grece excels at Saint-Cloud
Hawk given Greatwood option
Hannon: Early speed key for Osaila
30 October 2014Tearless takes Lingfield honours
Johnson taken to hospital
Royal summons for Apache
Bowe takes aim at WKD bullseye
Hootenanny 'smoking' for BC mission
Avenue roads lead to Newmarket
Shu to be kept busy
Scu sweet on Sensation Ascot raid
Murtagh succumbs to Cup charms
Dandino to stay in Australia
Glance denied Mackinnon defence
Bailey ace rules Supreme at Taunton
O'Brien hit by Magician blow
Diablo in big-race picture
Buckley raises Toast to Osborne
Pastille seeking four-timer
Conti all set for Charlie Hall
Barnes out to storm Saint-Cloud
Williams issues Buywise warning
Lynam reveals Slade stalls fears
29 October 2014Lame Magician out of Breeders' Cup
Diablo in big-race picture
Mullins enters strong Hennessy team
Damaged hock behind Estid reverse
Eckhart team rocked by injury blow
Hunt Ball makes Power play
Morgiana a T bone of contention
Kirby ponders Buttons French raid
Glance camp turn to Williams
Wohler trusts 'professional' Moore
Red alert to Cup challenge
Head targets more Mile glory
Mile hope Toronado in 'great form'
Telescope camp banking on Moore
Twiston-Davies link excites Moore
Flying third to Bob on hurdling bow
Harden to test top staying waters
Godolphin take share in Belardo
Mullins has big guns at Down Royal
Annacotty set for Kempton return
Powell and Bradley cleared
28 October 2014Fingal camp on weather watch
More injury woe for Popham
Dickin unveils Thomas gameplan
Power stalls in Flemington spin
Toast drawn nine in BC Classic
My Ambivalent passed fit by vets
Harry out to bring House down
Three and easy for ton-up Hanagan
Wood carves out Galway verdict
More Of That in Wetherby frame
Big guns confirmed for Charlie Hall
Byron pencilled in for Far East
Newbury reverts to original title
Magician to stay in the US