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Captain Chris and winner Long Run

Long Run (right) idled before rallying to beat Captain Chris at Kempton

  PICTURE: Mark Cranham (racingpost.com/photos)  

Cheekpieces confirmed for Cup hope Long Run

LONG RUN will wear cheekpieces when he bids to reclaim the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup two weeks on March 15, it was confirmed on Friday.

The headgear is set to be deployed in an attempt to ensure the eight-year-old remains fully focused on the race and was successfully trialled in a gallop at trainer Nicky Henderson's Seven Barrows base on Friday morning.

Henderson said: "We did try him in cheekpieces ... and he was very, very good. I think we all concluded they will just be a little bit of assistance to him, especially in the latter part of the race. Sometimes he gets to the front and he doesn't do a lot.

"It's no discredit to the horse [wearing cheekpieces]. He won't see them again before the race, they are shock tactics.

"He used to be too exuberant early on but nowadays he's much more relaxed. They might have him a bit more alert early in the race but that's no bad thing."

The headgear move was prompted by Long Run's performance in December's King George, in which he idled when leading before only narrowly winning from Captain Chris.

Talking to RUK, Henderson added: "Both Robert [Waley-Cohen, owner] and I had the same idea after the King George but neither one of us wanted to mention it to the public."

Previously connections of the 2011 Gold Cup winner used ear plugs to calm the once-flighty chaser before racing.

Trainers' championship favourite Henderson also said stable star Sprinter Sacre worked and was "spectacular to watch - unbelievable", while Bob's Worth "jumped beautifully", Simonsig was "very, very good" and Finian's Rainbow was "great".

 
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