Classy Betfair Chase attracts 19
Long Run, Grands Crus and Cue Card are three big names amongst 19 entries for the Betfair Chase at Haydock on November 24.
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Nicky Henderson's Long Run won the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2011 but could only manage third in last season's renewal of the Blue Riband event, one place worse than when second to a revitalised Kauto Star in this race last year.
His regular rider Sam Waley-Chen said: "We are pleased with Long Run. He has developed into a big, strong racehorse which we are all very excited about. He seems to have had a good summer and looks great.
"I think you would have to say he didn't achieve the heights last season that he achieved the year before. You always set your aspirations by what you have done in the past, but in many ways you can't be disappointed about being beaten by arguably the greatest horse of all time.
"We were never out of the first three, having run in top-class company, and although we did not get the results we wanted, you can't be too disappointed either.
"It's very hard to tell the difference in a horse from one year to another until you get to the sharp end of a race. The results clearly stand for themselves in that he didn't run to the same mark as he did the year before but, in terms of how Long Run felt through his races, I thought his jumping was significantly better than the year before and he was much more mature.
"All these things bode well for the coming season. I think there is an incredibly exciting group of horses out there at the moment and every year a new star is born and everyone will be trying to lay claims for the title of Kauto Star's successor.
"All being well, Long Run will follow a similar plan to last season as you are a bit limited with options at this level. I can't wait to race ride him again - riding him in work is a pleasure and riding him in races is a real joy for me."
Nicholls' star has now been retired, however the trainer still has impressive Charlie Hall Chase winner Silviniaco Conti in the latest entry stage, along with stablemate Cristal Bonus, who impressed on the same day at Down Royal, the John Hales-owned Al Ferof, and the enigmatic Tidal Bay.
Meanwhile Henderson also has the impressive pair of Bobs Worth and Burton Port entered, whilst Albertas Run, another Trevor Hemmings-owned horse, could represent Jonjo O'Neill.
Colin Tizzard's ace Cue Card romped home in the Haldon Gold Cup this week and could head to Lancashire along with stablemate Cannington Brook.
David Pipe's stable star Grands Crus is also in the Haydock feature along with stablemate Dynaste. Nigel Twiston-Davies' Imperial Commander is set for a return to action, as are the beaten Charlie Hall trio of Wayward Prince, Weird Al and Midnight Chase.
Calgary Bay, now in the care of Mick Channon having moved from near neighbour Henrietta Knight, Evan Williams' Cappa Bleu and David Bridgwater's Gold Cup runner-up The Giant Bolster complete the 19 entries.