Long Run and Sam Waley-Cohen have regained their Kempton crown, claiming their second King George VI Chase win.
The pair pipped the Philip Hobbs-trained Captain Chris to the post, taking the race by just a neck in a thrilling finish this afternoon (Wednesday 26 December).
Long Run, trained by Nicky Henderson, set off the 15-8 favourite of the Grade 1 race.
Despite a couple of jumping mistakes on the way round, the seven-year-old dug deep in stamina sapping conditions to win.
The heavy ground made for a testing battle in the closing stages of the race and a mighty leap by Captain Chris at the last landed the 16-1 shot temporarily in front under Richard Johnson, before he was caught on the line by the favourite.
Seven-year-old grey Grands Crus, trained by David Pipe, finished 14 lengths back in third with Tom Scudamore. Martin Keighley’s Champion Court, who travelled well throughout the race before tiring on the way home, finished fourth.
“He was so brave,” said Sam Waley-Cohen. “I had to keep asking him and I asked him early and perhaps too much as he was so tired and so brave. It means so much to us, this is why we do it. I can’t put it into words — it’s so special. It’s an honour and a pleasure.”
Sam’s father, and Long Run’s owner, Robert Waley-Cohen, added: “We’ve had such fun with him, he’s been wonderful to us. I wasn’t absolutely sure he’d got up to start with, but it’s fantastic.”
It was the second win of the day for amateur jockey Sam, who also won aboard the Nicky Henderson-trained Rajdhani Express.
Long Run, who won the rescheduled 2010 race [held in January 2011 due to bad weather], finished second to Kauto Star in the race last year, being held off by just one and a quarter lengths.
And popular five-times King George winner Kauto Star was also at Kempton today looking in good health parading before racing alongside new rider Laura Collett.
Kauto moved to event rider Laura’s Wiltshire yard earlier this month to embark on his second career in the world of dressage, with the help of top trainer Yogi Breisner.