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Last Updated: 23/11/12 1:23pm
No ground concerns for Long Run in the Betfair Chase on Saturday
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 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."