Long Run the class act in Crabbie’s Grand National
Trainer Nicky Henderson is yet to win the Crabbie’s Grand National, but in Long Run has a class performer who is more than capable of landing the famous race if taking to the unique Aintree fences.
The Seven Barrows’ handler has saddled 33 runners in the race since 1979, and has had three horses make the frame.
Zongalero finished second in 1979, Classified came third in 1986 and The Tsarevich came runner-up to Maori Venture in 1987.
That trio were all good horses in their own right but had nowhere near the class of Long Run.
The gelding was top-class over hurdles and fences for Guillaume Macaire before joining Henderson in 2009 and finishing third in the RSA Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in 2010 when just five-years-old.
He then became the first six-year-old to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup since Mill House in 1963 a year later, and looked destined to go on to further glory in chasing’s blue riband event
That wasn’t to be, but he ran with great credit to finish third in 2012 and 2013 and also managed to win back-to-back runnings of the King George VI Chase in 2011 and 2012.
A winner of 15 of his 30 starts under rules, he was rated as high as 182 at his peak but is now down to a mark of just 160.
That makes him look dangerously well-treated on the pick of his form, and although he struggled on first three starts this season he enjoyed a nice confidence boosting win last time out in the 3m 2f Ivan Straker Memorial Chase at Kelso when beating Knockara Beau by six lengths.
He jumped well that day, and after travelling strongly throughout took up the running three from home before asserting on the run-in to win with plenty in hand.
It was his first win since landing the King George in 2012, and his handler was delighted with the way he went about his business.
Henderson then resisted the temptation to run him in the Cheltenhham Gold Cup to save him for the National, and that looks a wise move as he goes into Aintree a fresh horse.
If his rider Sam Waley-Cohen can get him into a nice jumping rhythm early, and safely round the first curcuit, then he would have major claims of going one better than Oscar Time who finished runner-up to Ballabriggs in 2011 under the top class amataur jockey.
Long Run is currently 20/1 with Coral for the big race on Saturday, April 5th.