Long Run’s owner Robert Waley-Cohen has hit out at those who have previously criticised his superstar’s jumping, and has insisted that the 2011 Gold Cup champion is in the “prime of his life” ahead of the new campaign.
The unusual jumping technique used by the Nicky Henderson-trained horse to tackle his fences has raised questions — even the Seven Barrows master has labelled the seven-year-old as “froggy”.
However, Waley-Cohen believes there has been nothing wrong with Long Run’s performances, and feels he is fully prepared for the new season.
“We are very pleased with him,” he said. “He looks to be in very good form and is a very healthy horse. He is seven years old now and is in the prime of his life.
“A lot of people have discussed Long Run’s jumping, but he has been round Cheltenham three times, he has been round Kempton, he has been round Newbury, and he has been round Auteuil — a premier racetrack in France.
“Long Run has matured, physically and mentally, following his summer break, and we believe he is fit and ready for the season ahead.”
Long Run was second to Kauto Star in the Betfair Chase and King George last year, before finishing third in the Gold Cup at the Cheltenham Festival.
Those results have helped to maintain his impressive record of never finishing outside the top three in a race throughout his career. The son of Cadoudal, who also sired Paul Nicholls’ hurdling star Big Buck’s, has registered five Grade One victories.
Waley-Cohen is hoping that Long Run can add to his achievements, starting with the Betfair Chase at Haydock next month (24 November).
He said: “There are only three Grade Ones over his trip, so we will definitely go to the Betfair Chase at Haydock in November, King George and Gold Cup.
“Then it is whether we do the AON (Denman Chase) at Newbury again or go to Cheltenham at the end of January.
“Whatever we do, we are confident of having a good season with him, but it will depend on the conditions at the time. It is all about contingencies.”
Waley-Cohen has also confirmed that Long Run’s inclusion in the Grand National is only a “back-up plan” if he is unable to make the 2013 Cheltenham Gold Cup.
The 50-1 shot for National glory with Stan James has been ruled out of racing in both events next year.