/ Racing

Long Run wins Gold Cup

Updated: Friday, 18 Mar 2011 16:01

Sam Waley-Cohen is the first amateur jockey in 30 years to win the Gold Cup
Sam Waley-Cohen is the first amateur jockey in 30 years to win the Gold Cup

Long Run signalled the new dawn of steeplechasing by winning a thrilling renewal of the totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup to give Nicky Henderson his first success in the race.

The race lived up to all of its billing as, with half a mile to go, three former champions, Kauto Star, Denman and Imperial Commander, were all in a line.

But Long Run (7-2 favourite) had them in his sights and he jumped to the front at the last to win going away under amateur jockey Sam Waley-Cohen.

Denman ran another gallant race to finish runner-up for a second consecutive year, while Kauto Star held off stablemate What A Friend for third.

Waley-Cohen said afterwards: 'He's a whole lot better than I thought he was. That's a very special feeling and he's a very special horse.'

'I want to say thank you to everyone for believing in me and the horse. This is beyond my wildest dreams. I didn't think we were going to get there, but he picked up, and I think he still had a bit left.

'When he got there he saw the crowd and he wanted to stop and have a look. What a horse he is.'

Henderson added of Long Run's seven-length triumph: 'It was a great race because all the horses have run great races - there's no disputing it.

'Kauto Star was probably at his best today, but Long Run is a very good young horse.

'Sam gave him a beautiful ride. There was just a moment when I thought he needed a bit of daylight going down the hill, but he was very confident and he was very professional.'

The young French recruit Long Run only made his British debut in December 2009, when running amok in the Feltham Chase at Kempton on St Stephen's Day.

He followed up at Warwick but was unable to translate that form across into last season's RSA Chase at Cheltenham.

Long Run was also considered in some quarters to be slightly disappointing on his seasonal debut in the Paddy Power Gold Cup at Cheltenham last autumn, in which he was third as the 2-1 favourite.

And even though he excelled in the King George, his two previous performances at Cheltenham led many to question his ability to handle the exacting Gloucestershire circuit.

After moving ominously well at the top of the hill, such reservations were emphatically stricken from the record as Long Run became the youngest Gold Cup winner since Mill House struck in 1963.

Paul Nicholls said of his placed horses, Denman and Kauto Star: 'I thought they had it between them at one stage, but Long Run was always going well just behind.

'They've run absolutely amazing races. Kauto travelled great and jumped great and we were always going to be more positive on him.

'I always thought Long Run was the best horse in the race but I could not be more proud of my horses.'

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