Long Run team unconcerned by Haydock going
Updated: Friday, 23 Nov 2012 16:04
Owner Robert Waley-Cohen is unfazed by the prospect of testing conditions for Long Run's seasonal reappearance in the Betfair Chase on Saturday.
The Nicky Henderson-trained seven-year-old has his first start since finishing third in the Gold Cup at Cheltenham in March, but the ground at Haydock is likely to be demanding.
"The ground is what we've anticipated all week and I think we just have to press on and hope they all handle it," said Waley-Cohen.
"It's going to be fresh ground on Saturday and it's going to be the same for us all.
"It would be nice if they had a little bit of rain on Friday night, just to freshen things up a bit and stop it being too sticky."
Waley-Cohen believes Long Run is in better shape than he was for his Haydock comeback 12 months ago, when he finished second to Kauto Star.
He said: "I think Long Run is a bit more forward than he was going into the race last year and he is certainly more mature, physically and mentally.
"He is a Gold Cup winner and perhaps last season was a little disappointing, but there are a number of factors which contributed to that.
"He was a six-year-old and still growing and he came up against Kauto Star at his brilliant best in this race.
"He's running against good horses on Saturday and they don't just give Grade Ones away, but we're very much looking forward to it."
Long Run will again be partnered by the owner's son, Sam Waley-Cohen, who said: "There are some great horses in the race.
"Seeing the young horses coming through like Silviniaco Conti is also one of the great bits of racing - the old established stars being taken on by the young pretenders and seeing who's got what it takes.
"Competition at the top level is about heart and about mind.
"That transcends talent sometimes, and what we'll see on Saturday is the horses that have the heart and mind are the ones that also want to show they've got the talent."
The amateur rider admits Haydock is not the ideal track, adding: "It's not, but at the same time you are short of options and it's as good a place as any to go.
"It's a course he can run well on and if you look back to last season you'd say he got beat by Kauto Star, the greatest horse of all time, but he beat the third, fourth and fifth in the betting for the Gold Cup.
"OK, it's not his best course, but it's not a bad course.
"I think everyone's really pleased with him. He's matured both physically and mentally and we go there full of hope and with one eye fully on the competition."
"It would be nice if they had a little bit of rain on Friday night, just to freshen things up a bit and stop it being too sticky" - Robert Waley-Cohen, owner of Long Run
The up-and-coming Silviniaco Conti has big shoes to fill following Kauto Star's retirement as he is seemingly Paul Nicholls' chief Gold Cup contender.
Nicholls told Betfair: "The one thing about him is he jumps really, really well and he stays well, which is just what you need to go to a Gold Cup.
"Whether we'll talk about going to the Gold Cup this season he'll tell us, but the next logical step is the Betfair Chase.
"It's a race we've won four times with Kauto and he's come out of Wetherby really, really well.
"I think Haydock will suit him well.
"The only thing I wouldn't want is the ground to get too, too testing, but he's a nice horse for the future."
The Giant Bolster was one place ahead of Long Run in last season's Gold Cup, but trainer David Bridgwater is not confident of confirming the form.
Bridgwater said: "He's in good order. I hope he'll go through the ground as well as the others.
"We obviously finished ahead of Long Run in the Gold Cup, but this is a different track and a different stage of the season, obviously.
"If we can finish within 10 lengths of him on Saturday, I'll be very happy.
"I think there's our horse, Long Run and Weird Al who haven't run for a day or two, and you would think they are all going to improve.
"We'll get this race out of the way before we make any plans for the rest of the season, but obviously there are races like the King George and what have you to look at.
"We're really excited about running him.
"It's just brilliant to be part of races like this."
Trainer Donald McCain hopes Weird Al can yield an even better result than his third-placed finish here last season.
The nine-year-old appears to run his best races when fresh, as he showed when winning last year's Charlie Hall.
"We didn't feel he was quite ready to go to the Charlie Hall so we went straight to the Betfair," said McCain.
"He ran a nice race in it last year on his second run back.
"He probably wasn't as sharp as he was, so we've concentrated on going there fresh this time.
"He seems in great nick at the moment and after this I don't quite know where we'll go, but we'll probably aim him more at Aintree as a Grand National horse than at the Gold Cup."
Cannington Brook has a mountain to climb on official ratings, but is two from two at Haydock and loves heavy ground.
Trainer Colin Tizzard said: "He is 30lb wrong with the others but he loves heavy ground and is unbeaten around Haydock.
"I hope there is a bit more improvement to come from him as he needs to improve 20lb to place on Saturday, but the ground will help him."
The field is completed by Wayward Prince, who ran to his best when second in the Charlie Hall, his first start since being trained by his owner Hilary Parrott.