Who will take Kauto’s crown? Long Run’s Gold Cup victory at Cheltenham in 2011 suggested that the French-bred horse could dominate three-mile races over timber for several years, although the seven-year-old has flattered to deceive since that pulsating run and could only finish third twelve months later.
Even so, Long Run is a 5/2 chance (Sky Bet free bets) to claim victory at Kempton and there are few question marks whether the horse will get the trip, even on the likely soft ground at this racecourse.
The Nicky Henderson-trained charge finished second to Silviniaco Conti at Haydock a month ago and could be the one that takes all the beating, although Cue Card is a very interesting runner whose second place behind Sprinter Sacre in last season’s Arkle continues to be an impressive result.
With the Sprinter demolishing all his rivals, perhaps the six-year-old can demonstrate that he can get three miles and you wouldn’t expect it to be a problem considering this is a flat track and Cue Card looked full of running when claiming a facile win in the Gold Cup Chase at Exeter.
The Joe Tizzard-trained charge looks set to go off at around the 6/1 mark (Ladbrokes bookmaker) and it will be a similar price about the enigmatic Riverside Theatre who tends to be excellent and frustrating in equal measures.
The horse is famously owned by actor James Nesbitt and delighted connections by winning the Ryanair Chase at the Festival in March, with Barry Geraghty likely to be on board this quirky animal that looked down and out in that race before finding an extra gear.
Sir Des Champs looks unlikely to run, while Al Ferof and Sizing Europe are other notable absentees in this race, although Kauto Stone will line up for the encounter and the horse will love the tacky ground which looks nailed on with all the rain that has fallen.
Meanwhile, Grands Crus has drifted out to 11/1 (Sportingbet) after a poor run in the Paddy Power Gold Cup which raised question marks over the horse although we should remember that the David Pipe horse was excellent when winning over timber at Kempton twelve months ago.