Cheltenham Festival: Long Run wins Gold Cup

Jockey Sam Waley-Cohen celebrates winning the Gold Cup on Long Run at Cheltenham.
Jockey Sam Waley-Cohen celebrates winning the Gold Cup on Long Run at Cheltenham.
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Long Run signalled the new dawn of steeplechasing by winning a thrilling renewal of the totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup to give Nicky Henderson his first success in the race.

The race lived up to all of its billing as, with half a mile to go, three former champions, Kauto Star, Denman and Imperial Commander, were all in a line.

But Long Run (7-2 favourite) had them in his sights and he jumped to the front at the last to win going away under amateur jockey Sam Waley-Cohen.

Denman ran another gallant race to finish runner-up for a second consecutive year, while Kauto Star held off stablemate What A Friend for third.

The winning jockey said: “He’s a whole lot better than I thought he was.

“That’s a very special feeling and he’s a very special horse.”

The young French recruit Long Run only made his British debut in December 2009, when running amok in the Feltham Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day.

He followed up at Warwick but was unable to translate that form across into last season’s RSA Chase at Cheltenham.

Long Run was also considered in some quarters to be slightly disappointing on his seasonal debut in the Paddy Power Gold Cup at Cheltenham last autumn, in which he was third as the 2-1 favourite.

And even though he excelled in the King George, his two previous performances at Cheltenham led many to question his ability to handle the exacting Gloucestershire circuit.

After moving ominously well at the top of the hill, such reservations were emphatically stricken from the record as Long Run became the youngest Gold Cup winner since Mill House struck in 1963.

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