Long Run disappoints in France

Nicky Henderson pointed to the effects of a lengthy season taking its toll on Long Run as the former Cheltenham Gold Cup hero was well beaten in the Grand Steeple-Chase de Paris at Auteuil yesterday.

Long Run disappoints in France

Winner of the 2011 blue riband as well as claiming successive renewals of the King George VI Chase at Kempton, Long Run was making his first appearance in his native France since winning a Grade One chase at the Paris track in November 2009.

Despite being ever-present in the saddle aboard the nine-year-old since he joined Henderson four and a half years ago, Sam Waley-Cohen was unable to ride in the colours of his father, Robert, as the contest was part of the popular ’Quinte’ bet and French rules do not allow amateurs to ride in such races.

With Ruby Walsh getting the leg up for the first time, 4-1 joint-favourite Long Run was positioned on the heels of the leaders from the outset and jumped well for much of the three-mile-six-furlong journey.

However, he began to lose his position heading down the back straight and although Walsh did his best to keep his mount in contention, he faded tamely before the home turn and finished tailed off in ninth.

At the business end, Shannon Rock moved sweetly towards the front between the final two fences and claimed the leader Rhialco on the run to the line.

But he was in front for only a few seconds as Vincent Cheminaud conjured a late rattle from the Guillaume Macaire-trained Storm Of Saintly, the other 4-1 joint-favourite, and got up on the line, meaning Shannon Rock was narrowly denied for the third year running.

There was a second British-trained runner in the field in the shape of Jo Hughes’ giant chaser Soll, but he was struggling with a circuit to run and never looked like being involved in the finish.

Henderson said: “He’s a bit heat exhausted and dehydrated, but other than that he’s fine. It’s a very hot day.

“He travelled and jumped great for a long way, but Ruby said he ran like a horse who hadn’t taken all the travelling and I think that’s the case. It’s a race we could have probably done with earlier in the season rather than at the end of a long season.

“He’ll have a nice, long holiday now.”

Cheminaud struck again in the Prix Questarabad aboard Roll On Has, with the Willie Mullins-trained Gitane Du Berlais running with credit in third.

With leading French jockey Jacques Ricou booked for the ride, Gitane Du Berlais looked a major contender following successive victories at Aintree and Fairyhouse and moved ominously towards the front end before the home turn.

However, she was unable to pick up sufficiently in the straight and had to make do with minor honours.

Hot favourite Ambroise had beaten Roll On Has into second on their last two meetings at Auteuil in April, but Jean Paul Gallorini’s four-year-old reversed the form in this Grade Three contest.

There was a fairytale result for Willie Mullins as his admirable grey Thousand Stars recorded his fourth course victory after a barnstorming finish to the Prix la Barka under Katie Walsh.

The 10-year-old won this race two years ago prior to securing his second victory in the French Champion Hurdle and returned to Paris off the back of a confidence-boosting victory at Fairyhouse.

Thousand Stars was up with the pace from the outset and was sent to the front before the home turn.

Le Grand Duce, runner-up behind the Mullins-trained Un De Sceaux in the Prix Leon Rambaud last month, made a real race of it after the final flight and the two of them flashed by the post virtually as one.

However, the photo revealed the rallying Thousand Stars was ahead at the crucial stage.

The grey was one of four runners in the field for Mullins and each of them performed with credit.

Ruby Walsh-ridden favourite Diakali finished strongly to grab third, Zaidpour was fifth under David Casey and the mare Glens Melody was seventh in the hands of Paul Townend.

The other cross-Channel raider was Paul Nicholls’ Zarkandar and he also ran a respectable race in sixth.

Mullins said: “He’s an extraordinary horse and I thought Katie gave him a fantastic ride.

“Hopefully he’ll be back in three weeks’ time for another crack at the Grande Course De Haies D’Auteuil (French Champion Hurdle).

“Diakali ran on well and probably didn’t jump as well as he can. Hopefully he can improve his jumping and he’ll come back here for the big one as well.

“Zaidpour also ran fantastically and I think he’s also booked his ticket for the race.

“I’m not so sure about Glens Melody. She ran well but we might look to give her a break.

“Gitane Du Berlais ran well earlier in the day and will come back here as well next month for the big four-year-old race, along with Abbyssial.”

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