- Horse Racing
Long Run denies Captain Chris in King George epic
Long Run regained his King George VI Chase title with a gallant display to deny Captain Chris.
Nicky Henderson's charge, winner of the race in 2010, produced a huge staying display to get back to the front after being headed between the final two fences by Captain Chris.
Sam Waley-Cohen aboard Long Run knew his charge would stay and he kept his mount towards the front rank. His jumping has not always been the best and he made a jolting mistake five from home and again at the last - but still had enough class to score.
Long Run assumed battle with Champion Court - who had vied for the lead from the off - a fair way from home and came under pressure turning in. His stamina kicked in and he beat off the challenge of Champion Court three from home.
He looked set to run out a wide-margin winner, but a slow jump two from home jolted his momentum. At that point, Captain Chris, who had been held up off the pace, swept to the front. Long Run, though, flicked his ears as if he had more to give.
Captain Chris jumped the better of the two at the final fence and eked out a length lead, but Long Run kept finding for pressure and got back up in the shadow of the post to justify 15/8 favouritism.
Grands Crus plugged on for third a matter of weeks after undergoing a wind operation, while the rest were strung out like the washing in the cloying ground.
"It was a brave call to go on when he did and it was the right call to make," Henderson said. "It was a battle out there today and not the best ground for any of them. He's young but has been doing everything right. You would have to say last year was a disappointment but he's been running good races all the time.
"We had it in our minds that Bobs Worth would run in the Cheltenham race in January (Argento Chase), leaving Long Run free to run in the Denman (Aon) Chase at Newbury, but we'll have to discuss things with connections. I'd love to see Long Run back on better ground and I'm so pleased Sam and the horse have proved a point to people today."
Waley-Cohen said: "He was so brave. I had to keep asking him - I asked him early and maybe I asked too much as he was tired but so brave. This is his fifth year of competing at this level and he means an enormous amount to us. That was racing at it's best for me. I can't put it into words. It's an honour and a privilege."
Jockey Richard Johnson said of the runner-up: "I thought coming to the last I was going to win, but the other horse is a proven Gold Cup winner and he's just outstayed me. It was a great run and I'm just looking forward to riding him on better ground."