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Long Run poised for trip to Punchestown Festival

Updated: Saturday, 23 Mar 2013 17:59 | Comments

Former winner Long Run followed home stablemate Bobs Worth and Sir Des Champs in the Gold Cup earlier this month
Former winner Long Run followed home stablemate Bobs Worth and Sir Des Champs in the Gold Cup earlier this month

Long Run is set to sign off his season in next month's Punchestown Gold Cup following another fine effort in defeat at Cheltenham last week.

The 2011 Cheltenham Gold Cup hero finished third in the blue riband event for the second successive year, picking up minor honours behind stable companion Bobs Worth and the Willie Mullins-trained Sir Des Champs.

Robert Waley-Cohen's eight-year-old has for the last three years ended his campaign at Cheltenham, but his trainer Nicky Henderson is keen on a trip to Ireland.

He told Channel 4 Racing: "I discussed it with Robert this morning and, hopefully, he will go to Punchestown."

Henderson has yet to finalise plans for his incredible stable star Sprinter Sacre, but a first attempt at two and a half miles over fences in Aintree's Melling Chase remains under serious consideration.

"With Sprinter the balls are in the air, but it will be Punchestown or Aintree," said the Seven Barrows handler.

"We've had thoughts and it came to me earlier in the week that you can't go through seasons just having four runs every year - you've got to be a bit more adventurous.

"He wants to go and race, that's what he enjoys doing and that is what he's there for.

"His pedigree on his dam's side says three miles, three miles, three miles. The breeders can't understand why we're running him over two - they think we're mad!

"If he was to cruise at his speed and gets three miles, I think he'll lap some! His cruising speed is that high.

"I think we all know Aintree isn't the stiffest two and a half miles in the country, so if you're ever going to do it, this is the time to try it.

"If we get the two and a half, it gives us a few more options next year."

Despite only running in the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury this season prior to his Gold Cup triumph, Bobs Worth is highly unlikely to run again this term.

Henderson said: "It's very sad to be putting him away with two runs all season, but in all probability he will not run again.

"Aintree would not be his track and for him, it definitely comes too soon."

The trainer suggested the Lexus Chase at Leopardstown as a possible mid-season target for Bobs Worth next time around.

Arkle Trophy scorer Simonsig will not head for the Grand National meeting at Aintree, but is a possible runner in the Future Champions Novices' Chase at Ayr for his Scottish owner Ronnie Bartlett.

Henderson had been considering the Champion Hurdle at Punchestown for Grandouet after his fall at Cheltenham, but he is now set to line up in the Aintree Hurdle, along with stablemate Binocular.

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