Long Run (right): being aimed at Punchestown Gold CupPICTURE: Getty Images
Waley-Cohen keen on Ireland trip for Long Run
LONG RUN'S owner Robert Waley-Cohen on Saturday said he was approaching his top chaser's first Punchestown mission with a mixture of optimism and trepidation, as he explained the reasons behind the rethink that has led to the Cheltenham Gold Cup third being handed a ticket to Ireland.
This season's King George VI Chase winner faces a rematch with Gold Cup runner-up Sir Des Champs and his nearest Kempton victim Captain Chris in the Bet Online with thetote.com Punchestown Gold Cup, the meeting highlight that is also set to play host to Aintree winner First Lieutenant.
Long Run's outings at the Cheltenham Festival brought an end to his previous three seasons, as looked likely to be the case once again in the moments after this year's Gold Cup, when Waley-Cohen - whose eight-year-old had made all until being headed approaching the final fence - said: "I think you give your all in a race like that. I'm not a fan of running again."
Explaining the change of mind, Waley-Cohen said: "It's true that I was initially against the idea of running after Cheltenham but you cannot have preconceived ideas with animals. He came out of the Gold Cup much better than I had imagined he would and seems to be in extremely good form.
"He has had only three runs so far this season, whereas last year the Gold Cup was his fourth run. If the ground is suitable at Punchestown he might as well run."
"I think we'll stick with using cheekpieces, as we did at Cheltenham, but we'll look at the opposition closer to the time before deciding on tactics. As ever, I'll go into the race full of optimism and trepidation."