LONG RUN WINS CHELTENHAM GOLD CUP

Long Run backed up his victory in the King George VI Chase by winning the Gold Cup with a late burst in the showpiece race of the Cheltenham Festival on Friday.
The 7-2 favorite, ridden by 28-year-old amateur jockey Sam Waley-Cohen and trained by Nicky Henderson, took the lead for the first time when jumping the second-to-last fence and pulled away from former winners Denman (8-1) and Kauto Star (5-1) in the sprint to the line.

“This is beyond my wildest dreams,” Waley-Cohen said. “I didn’t think we were going to get there, but he picked up and I think he still had a bit left.”

“He’s a whole lot better than I thought he was. That’s a very special feeling and he’s a very special horse.”


Denman finished second, the 11-year-old maintaining his record of never having finished outside the top two in seven starts in Cheltenham.

Two-time winner Kauto Star, who was denied a fifth straight King George VI title by Long Run in January, finished third ahead of What a Friend, the 25-1 shot owned by Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson.

“I can’t think of a better race than that,” Ferguson said.

Paul Nicholls, the trainer of both Kauto Star and 2008 winner Denman, said his 11-year-old horses couldn’t have done any more.

“They’ve run absolutely amazing races. I thought they had it between them at one stage, but Long Run was always going well just behind,” Nicholls said.

(Photos by Leon Neal/AFP/Getty Images)