Personally I think that this is going to be a penalty kick for Long Run. How can you doubt a horse who has had 15 runs, and has the following record:
Won 3x Grade Ones
Won 2x Grade Twos
Won 2x Grade Threes
Has NEVER fallen.
He could well make mistakes but it seems that when he does, he flicks through the fences like a typical french horse. He doesn't look like falling and it could be a saving grace that Mr Waley Cohen is riding him. Being an amateur he rides long in his stirrups. I have watched his English races in detail and when he makes mistakes Sam seems to flap his reins about but never looks like coming out of the saddle. He is now a second season chaser and should have improved his jumping from last year, which is to be expected.
Sam also claims his 5lb allowance for the first time riding the horse so technically he is 5lbs well in within the handicap. There are obviously better jockeys that are riding in the race but I think that will only tell if it comes to a head to head bobbing finish and that's where the jockey's strength will show. The horse is usually keen in his races and it has never stopped him before so why should it this time?
Long Run has only been seen for Mr Henderson over 2m and 3m. I think that 2m 4f will prove to be his optimum, how well was he going in the RSA with 5f to travel, I thought he was there with every chance. Surely this is worth another couple of lbs in his rating?
The hustle and bustle of a big handicap could be a worry but he ran up against 12-14 runner fields in France so it shouldn't be too much of a culture shock for him. As long as Sam gives him a clear view of his fences I can't see him making a terminal error.
We have to remember that he is only 5 now, he is obviously on the upgrade and has improved and grown over the winter. I think that by the end of the season this horse will be rated in the mid to high 170s so if he is as good as I think he is he should push this opposition to the side with a bit of ease before attempting to keep up with Kauto Star in the King George.
The ground is no issue whatsoever and all this rain that is arriving can only benefit him surely, after a lot of Heavy ground wins in France. He has had experience at the course before so it isn't as if it will be a completely new experience to him. The freshness issue shouldn't be too much of a problem as Mr Henderson's horses are coming into form now and we all know that he does well during November.
I think it will be an interesting race to watch with my money on because it is likely to contain the odd jumping error but I think he will cross the line infront, more than 5l clear.
Initailly I thought that bookmakers would take the favourite on due to the amateur on board and the mistakes he sometimes makes, however I see this morning he is moving closer to 3/1 with them and could see him going off around the 5/2 mark come Saturday afternoon. I am getting on now at 7/2.