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It’s been a long time since the 2011 Cheltenham Festival Gold Cup winner Long Run was last seen on a racecourse under rules – 658 days and counting to be precise – but according to owner/trainer Robert Waley-Cohen he’s on track for a shot at the Grand National. Allocated 10 stone 8lb this year, a significantly lower mark than the 10 stone 8lb he was carrying on his previous attempt in 2014, he missed the whole of last season following injuries incurred on the return journey from France after running poorly in the Grand Steeple-Chase de Paris at Auteuil.
His trainer commented that he thought the 11 year old was running an excellent race before his fall in the Grand National two years ago and seemed confident he’d be ready for April:
“Long Run is cantering away and seems in great form. We want to get one run into him before Aintree as you can’t really expect to go for a race like that having not run for two years. I have got a couple of hunter chases penciled in…It is going to be tight timewise but it is certainly not out of the question.”
On old form, Long Run could be thrown in off his current mark if returning to his best. He has won an impressive 5 Grade 1s, with 4 of them coming under amateur jockey Sam Waley-Cohen, including the Cheltenham Gold Cup and the William Hill King George VI Chase. He stayed strongly all the way to the line when winning the Festival showpiece, beating Denman by 7 lengths, and while he’s struggled to rise to those heights again he still finished 3rd in the Punchestown Gold Cup behind Boston Bob and First Lieutenant in 2014.
Robert Waley-Cohen added: “It is quite hard to evaluate the weight he has been given but I thought the handicapper showed very good judgement. It may prove to be generous or it may too be harsh but until he runs again it is hard to tell.”
Long Run is available at a best price of 50/1 with Paddy Power at the time of writing.