/ Racing

Long Run likely to sport cheekpieces at Cheltenham

Updated: Friday, 01 Mar 2013 21:43 | Comments

Long Run, once a keen-going sort, has now become a little too relaxed in his races
Long Run, once a keen-going sort, has now become a little too relaxed in his races

Long Run is set to wear cheekpieces for the first time in public when he aims to regain his crown in the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup later this month.

The eight-year-old won the Festival feature in 2011 but endured a disappointing campaign last term, being beaten twice by Kauto Star before having to settle for third behind Synchronised in the Gold Cup.

Trainer Nicky Henderson looks to have brought him back to top form this season, with Long Run landing a second King George title on St Stephen’s Day.

However, connections are keen for Long Run to be fully focussed in the closing stages of the blue riband and decided to school him in the headgear as an experiment this morning.

After watching him school alongside with Queen Mother Champion Chase favourite Sprinter Sacre, owner Robert Waley-Cohen believes the application of cheekpieces on 15 March is likely.

He said: "Everything went fine, as well as we could have hoped.

"Barry Geraghty schooled Sprinter Sacre, Sam (Waley-Cohen, jockey) followed him on Long Run and everything looked good.

"We don't have to declare (the cheekpieces) until declaration time but, as it is now, I would say he will most probably wear them in the Gold Cup."

Henderson said: "They gave him that little extra bit, they helped him and it will be interesting how he works tomorrow.

"He won't have them on tomorrow, but it often has an effect when you take them off again.

"I think he'll probably have the cheekpieces on at Cheltenham.

"He didn't go to Yogi's (Breisner) yesterday, but a lot of them did. Simonsig was excellent and Bobs Worth was very good."

Henderson added that Punjabi would be joining Champion Hurdle contender Grandouet, Arkle favourite Simonsig and the Fred Winter-bound Megalypos in a gallop at Newbury on Sunday.

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