Long Run got his season back on track with a workmanlike win in the Ivan Straker Memorial Chase at Kelso, beating the course specialist Knockara Beau by six lengths to remain on course for the Grand National in April.
The Nicky Henderson-trained nine-year-old, a spent force in Grade One company this season, is second in the weights at Aintree, 3lb well in compared to his normal rating. In a virtual match at the Borders course he was 17lb better off with Knockara Beau than in a handicap, but showed only a fraction of that superiority for the urgings of his rider, Sam Waley-Cohen.
"He's spent his life racing around Cheltenhams, Ascots, Kemptons and Auteuils, but it was a fantastic opportunity to get him back on track before we decide where we are going to go," Henderson said. "The principal objective is the Grand National. A couple of years ago I wouldn't have thought he was the right horse but his jumping is now more Anglais than Franglais. I think he'll love the fences."
Knockara Beau had ended the winning run of Big Buck's over hurdles at Cheltenham last time out, but will remain over fences for the Gold Cup next month. He finished a remote sixth in 2012.
At Meydan, Long John was an authoritative winner of the UAE 2,000 Guineas by four and a quarter lengths from Emirates Flyer. Godolphin's Australian recruit will attempt to follow up in the UAE Derby next month.