CHELTENHAM 2013: Stamina test to play to former champ’s strengths

Play: Long Run, 3.20

In a week when Hurricane Fly regained the Champion Hurdle crown, Long Run can reclaim the title he earned in 2011 by taking today’s Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Nicky Henderson’s two-time King George winner is not short of stamina and while he might prefer better ground, he’ll adapt to condition better than most of his rivals.

Stamina will be the order of the day, and he has that in abundance. It’ll be interesting to see how the fitting of cheekpieces affects him, but if they have the desired effect of making him concentrate on his jumping, we can expect a huge run.

He’s sure to attract plenty of interest at around the 6-1 mark, which looks a great each-way bet.

Each-Way: Lac Fontana, 1.30

Paul Nicholls thinks an awful lot of Far West, and it’s fair to claim that he’s the trainer’s best chance of winning this race, but his Lac Fontana makes each-way appeal.

He ran better than the form suggests when third behind Forgotten Voice and Brick Red last time, when he was noted running on really strongly at the finish.

That run was around Kempton’s flat track, where the emphasis was on speed, and the pace with which he finished suggests he will relish this stiffer track and likely faster pace.

When Nicholls won this race in 2010, Zarkandar, ridden by Lac Fontana’s jockey, Daryl Jacob, was the outsider of the stable’s entries and so that may not necessarily be a negative.

Odds of 16-1 represent some value.

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