Tote Win: £0.00 Tote Place: ££2.00,£3.00,£2.20
Straight Forecast: £0.00 Exacta: £0.00 Trifecta: £0.00 Swingers: 1&2:£4.60 2&3:£6.60 1&3:£4.20
Jackpot: £251,836.38 carried forward to Uttoxeter, 19th Mar
Placepot: £4,332.10, Pool: £969985.4, 163.45 winning tickets
Quadpot: £530.70, Pool: £45633.74, 63.62 winning tickets
One of the most exhilarating races of the last decade, as LONG RUN became the first six-year-old to win the Blue Riband event since Mill House in 1963. There were worries over his jumping prior to the race, as he had fenced fairly moderately on his two previous visits to the track, and once again here you could not argue that it was an asset. He fiddled a couple but it didn't seem to stop his progress, and when Sam Waley-Cohen asked him to see a stride he responded well. As Kauto Star (who had jumped beautifully throughout) made his way to the front with a circuit left to go, the race started to sort itself out. Midnight Chase, Pandorama and China Rock all started to struggle, and a leading group of Kauto Star, Imperial Commander, Long Run and What A Friend came clear. Sam Thomas started to bump Denman along on the outside as he was wary of getting outpaced, whilst Kauto Star still travelled powerfully. He was the last off the bridle, but Denman on his outer and Long Run just in behind managed to keep tabs on him. Approaching the second-last fence, the pair still had a couple of lengths on the eventual winner, however Waley-Cohen got a great leap out of him, and he was alongside when they came down to the last. Here the jockey won the race, asking for a big jump, and his willing partner gave him everything. As Kauto Star fiddled it, Long Run landed full of running and quickly bounded away from Denman. He had moved into second, as Kauto Star's heart seemed to be broken and he could find no more. In the end he only held onto third place by a nose, as What A Friend rallied up the hill. Phew. The winner was immense; this wasn't in all probability as strong a piece of form as at Kempton when he won the King George, however it was by and far the biggest moment of his career. There are always going to be new contenders on the scene, but given his age it is hard to see him not being a major force for the next three seasons if staying sound. Runner-up Denman ran a magnificent race. This ground will not have been ideal, but he gave his all for his rider Sam Thomas and the way he rallied coming down the hill ensured that we got the exhilarating finish we did. And so to Kauto Star. He was written off after Kempton, but he attracted support before the race and looked on great terms with himself. The key to his run was his jumping, as it was absolutely superb until the closing stages. If he continues to bump into Long Run he will probably have to settle for minor honours, whether at Cheltenham or Kempton, but there is no disgrace in that and if he is kept in training then he will still be a force. What A Friend ran very well; he was quite keen, and still has an awkward way of carrying himself, however he was still on the scene at the top of the hill. From there he was a little left behind, but to his credit he rallied after the last and in another stride would have been placed. Next home was Midnight Chase. He was too short in the betting for what he had achieved, and he struggled around half-way when he lost the lead. However this horse is nothing if not game and he rallied well, to hold off Tidal Bay and Pandorama for a truly deserved fifth. Tidal Bay was looking at the clouds from an early stage and did his normal trick of running on up the hill when the race was over, whilst Pandorama ran well considering his preference for soft ground. Unfortunately the odds of him getting those conditions for the major races in this country are slim so it's highly likely that we'll only ever see the best of him across the Irish Sea. One of the stories of the race was Imperial Commander. He was quietly going about his business for a long way, and was still travelling smartly when the 'big four' went clear. However he blundered badly four from home, and that seemed to knock the stuffing out of him. Paddy Brennan looked after him, pulling him up after two out; it transpired that he returned lame after.