Sam Waley-Cohen feels Long Run heads to Cheltenham a better horse than the one who ran there last year.
Last Updated: 09/03/13 4:27pm
Sam Waley-Cohen feels Long Run heads into Friday's Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup a better horse than the one who finished third last year.
On that occasion he found Synchronised and The Giant Bolster too good but warmed up for this year's renewal by landing the William Hill King George VI Chase at Kempton.
The jockey said: "He goes into the race in really good form. He's a horse I've got to grow up with and know really well. With a week to go we're there with a really live contender.
"I think he is better than last year. He's jumping better than last year. If you look at the races as a whole now he's a much more complete package - we understand each other better and that's great."
Nicky Henderson's charge will wear cheekpieces for the first time at Prestbury Park and the jockey feels they could have a significant effect after a recent schooling session in them.
"He was very good that day," Waley-Cohen went on. "He's actually a very good jumper but can sometimes can get on his forehand when you just want him to take his time. He'll almost certainly run in cheekpieces.
"I felt in the King George once he got to the front he started to prick his ears. Even the year he won the Gold Cup the plan was to come off the corner because he races to the front but when you get there he doesn't necessarily do too much.
"I think the cheekpieces will help him focus and he won't be so aware of where the other horses are and will keep galloping to the line with a little luck."
Recent rain has turned the going at Cheltenham to soft but Waley-Cohen has no worries on that score.
"I think you'd have to say he's a stayer these days. In the King George the ground was as soft as it can be and he handled that well so I can't see why that would be a particular concern."
And his views of the opposition?
"Bobs Worth's form is spectacular but the big difference with Long Run is he's been there and done it. He went up to 182 at the highest level and for all the novices coming through they have to show they can go up to the top level and improve by another 10lb. What's exciting about this race is that nobody knows if they can."