Long Run out of Kauto's shadow and abuzz with Boxing Day cheer

 

This time, Kauto Star will be at Kempton on Boxing Day only to
lead the parade. In other respects, however, steeplechasing's
midwinter championship will remain so little changed that they
might have a job preventing him jumping off with the others. His
old rival, Long Run, is favourite in his absence – and yesterday
continuity was further assured when William Hill announced a
three-year extension to its sponsorship of the King George VI
Chase.

Long Run's breakthrough King George and Gold Cup wins in 2010-11 had appeared to seal a succession, but Kauto Star memorably avenged himself with a record fifth success at Kempton last year. Now that he has finally been pensioned off, moreover, something of his vintage quality will attach to Long Run himself. If it seems premature to identify a horse not yet eight years old as some bastion of the old guard, the fact remains that Long Run was a very early starter – and even a contemporary like Al Ferof, as a graduate from the novice ranks, seems relatively fresh blood.

But it is precisely because Long Run has already achieved so much that his owner can perceive a somewhat cyclical quality in his profile. "It's possible that the Gold Cup he won as a six-year-old might have taken a hell of a lot out of him," Robert Waley-Cohen said yesterday. "Of course, it's also possible that Kauto Star was just a very good horse, when we ran against him last year. But I just suspect that those races came home to roost in the Gold Cup, when he definitely wasn't himself."

The jury remains out on Long Run's restoration, following defeat by Silviniaco Conti at Haydock last month, but he has a habit of needing his comeback and saw things out pretty well after proving too fresh in the early stages. Certainly, Waley-Cohen reckons it a better performance than he produced in the same race last year, when blown apart by Kauto Star's rejuvenation. "I thought he ran much better this time," Waley-Cohen said. "The race was not run to suit him at all and he would have found that ground a bit tricky as well. We were always worried there wouldn't be enough pace, and that's exactly what happened – but we didn't want to leave the rest of his season behind in a terrific battle there."

Interesting testimony in his support comes from Charlie Morlock, assistant trainer to Nicky Henderson. Having only just joined Seven Barrows last year, Morlock admits now to the bemusement he felt about Long Run. "I do remember wondering why everyone got so hyped up about him," he said. "He just didn't have that buzz you tend to get with good horses. But he seems a very different horse now, in terms of that buzz and vitality. It's an intangible thing, just the feel you get as a stockman looking him in the eye, but he certainly seems a healthier, happier individual."

At the same time Morlock counselled against neglecting Riverside Theatre, second to Long Run two years ago but this time making his reappearance. "If you look back he has always run his best races fresh," Morlock said. "So they've just taken a bold shout to go straight to Kempton with him. We took him down there last week for a gallop, just to take some of the fizz out of him, without flattening him – and he went very nicely indeed." His escorts were none other than Darlan and Grandouet, both top-class hurdlers.

The ghost of Christmas past will none the less continue to haunt proceedings. Paul Nicholls, his trainer, is back with two runners – the retired champion's half-brother Kauto Stone joins Al Ferof – while the big novice race on the card has now been renamed the Kauto Star Feltham Chase. "The hardest thing will be keeping a lid on his energy," Nicholls said. "For the first time in eight years he dropped Clifford [Baker, Nicholls' head lad] the other morning and trotted down the road loose. He still thinks he's six."

William Hill King George VI Chase, Kempton, Boxing Day (sponsors' betting): 4-1 Long Run, 13-2 Al Ferof, 7-1 Cue Card, 8-1 Riverside Theatre, Sizing Europe, 10-1 bar.

Turf Account

Chris McGrath's Nap: Stetson (3.30 Lingfield)

Returned from a long absence to make an auspicious start in handicaps for his new stable.

Next Best: On The Feather (12.00 Lingfield)

In decent form over hurdles and returns to the Flat on a fair mark.

News
election 2015The 10 best quotes of the campaign
News
A caravan being used as a polling station in Ford near Salisbury, during the 2010 election
election 2015The Independent's guide to get you through polling day
News
people
Voices
David Blunkett joins the Labour candidate for Redcar Anna Turley on a campaigning visit last month
voicesWhat I learnt from my years in government, by the former Home Secretary David Blunkett
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (B2B) - Romford - £40,000 + car

£35000 - £40000 per annum + car and benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager...

Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000 ...

Ashdown Group: Data Scientist - London - £50,000 + bonus

£35000 - £50000 per annum + generous bonus: Ashdown Group: Business Analytics ...

Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Development) - Kingston

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Dev...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

Crisp sales are in decline

As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'