/ Racing

Waley-Cohen seeks winning Punchestown debut

Updated: Tuesday, 23 Apr 2013 12:56 | Comments

Sam Waley-Cohen and Long Run hope to bring the Punchestown Gold Cup to England
Sam Waley-Cohen and Long Run hope to bring the Punchestown Gold Cup to England

Audio

Amateur jockey Sam Waley-Cohen is hoping to make his first ride at Punchestown a winning one when Long Run contests the Bet Online With TheTote.com Punchestown Gold Cup tomorrow.

Nicky Henderson's dual King George winner will face seven rivals in the feature race of the meeting, including his stablemate Riverside Theatre.

Long Run finished third in the Gold Cup at Cheltenham for the second successive year, but for the last four seasons his campaign has ended in Gloucestershire.

This year, however, connections are keen to let him have one more spin.

"He appears to have come out of Cheltenham very well and seems to be enjoying life so we thought we'd rise to the challenge and take on Ireland," said Waley-Cohan.

"You can never be sure that a horse has fully recovered from a race like the Gold Cup but the horse usually tells you himself if he's up to another run and everything we've seen tells us that he is, he's been working very well.

"I've never ridden at Punchestown before and am really excited to be going over there.

"This is one of the great racing festivals and it's a real thrill to be part of it."

Willie Mullins runs Gold Cup runner-up Sir Des Champs while in the same Gigginstown Stud ownership Mouse Morris' Betfred Bowl winner First Lieutenant and Colm Murphy's Quito De La Roque take their chance.

Paul Nicholls, who won the race twice with Neptune Collonges in 2007 and 2008, is represented by Kauto Stone, with Philip Hobbs, successful with Planet Of Sound in 2010, running Captain Chris, second to Long Run in the King George at Kempton on St Stephen's Day.

Gordon Elliott's Chicago Grey completes the field.

First Lieutenant has danced every dance this season, running in the Hennessy, the Lexus and the Ryanair, all since November, before his Aintree win.

But he appears to be thriving for his racing and Morris thinks he will be able to handle the testing conditions better than he did earlier in his career.

"He seems to come out of Aintree well and he looks like he's ready to go again," said Morris.

"He's been to Cheltenham and Aintree, but before that he hadn't much mileage on the clock this season and he seems fresh and well.

"The ground is going to be heavy but he's older and stronger now and I think he'll cope with it all right.

"It will be interesting to see how he gets on against those horses that ran in the Gold Cup."

Earlier in the season Kauto Stone looked booked for a profitable campaign after beating First Lieutenant at Down Royal but he has not repeated his form in the King George or last time out over hurdles.

Nicholls told Racing UK: "He's fine, but he's been very frustrating.

"He went to Down Royal and beat Flight Lieutenant, but he hasn't reproduced that form, hence why we've left him alone since December.

"He's a bit of an enigma, but right-handed tracks seem to suit him.

"We've not done a lot with him since his last run - we've changed his diet and his routine - but we think we have him very well."

Live television coverage of the Punchestown Festival from 16:00 on RTÉ One and 17:55 on RTÉ Two on Tuesday 23 to Friday 26 April. Live streaming on RTÉ.ie (Ireland only).

User contributions and/or comments do not, unless specifically stated, represent the views of RTÉ.ie or RTÉ.
Click here for Terms of use