Nicky Henderson, the trainer whose recent hot streak shows no signs of coming to an end, has been outlining his intended campaign for the rest of the season for Long Run and Riverside Theatre, the pair who gave the Seven Barrows handler a tremendous 1–2 in the King George VI Chase at Kempton Park last week, writes Elliot Slater.
Both horses have returned from their exertions in good form and have been out in the paddocks having a pick or two of grass after providing Henderson with one of the greatest moments of his already glittering training career. Owner Robert Waley-Cohen’s Long Run was superb in the three-mile championship race, always travelling well in the hands of owner’s son Sam, and powering clear of Kauto Star and the rest when asked to quicken on the home turn. His 10-length victory showed that he has come of age and he is now one of the best looking Cheltenham tips for the Gold Cup.
Henderson made it clear that there is little, if any chance that Long Run will run again before the blue riband on March 18, and he intends instead to freshen him up and send him to Prestbury Park in peak condition without over-exerting him beforehand and the Cheltenham Gold Cup betting suggests he has an excellent chance of landing the race.
Riverside Theatre, owned by a syndicate headed by actor James Nesbitt, ran a fine race to finish second, eventually staying-on in the testing ground to pass the four-time previous winner Kauto Star on the run-in and prove that he sees out the three-mile trip without any problem whatsoever.
Riverside Theatre is not an intended runner at the Cheltenham Festival at this stage, although he has been given an entry in the Ryanair Chase. Plans are afoot for him to have a slightly longer break than Long Run and tackle the Grade 1 Melling Chase at the Aintree Festival in April.