Long Run has "become a man" according to his owner Robert Waley-Cohen as the star chaser sets out on a campaign the owner hopes will end with the apple of his eye regaining his Cheltenham Gold Cup crown.
The Nicky Henderson-trained seven-year-old had looked set to dominate the staying division after winning the 2011 Gold Cup but last season did not go to plan.
Long Run was beaten by Kauto Star in both the Betfair Chase at Haydock and the King George, and was only a creditable third when defending his Cheltenham title in March.
"He's been back with Nicky a couple of weeks and he went back really looking the part," said Waley-Cohen.
"He was a boy, but now he's become a man.
Really Good Order
"He's matured and he's grown stronger and he's in really good order, so our hopes and dreams are that he'll come back to form of early 2011."
Long Run looks set to follow the same route to the Gold Cup as last season.
"The Betfair Chase at Haydock is the obvious, and most likely, starting point," said Waley-Cohen.
"After that, it will probably be Kempton, Newbury and Cheltenham.
"That will probably be his season and if we win all four, we won't be complaining.
"It's going to be interesting to see what the competition is going to be like this season. Last year's novices are probably going to be his main competition."