Gold Cup favourite and 2011 winner, Long Run, will make his final start this weekend before heading back to the Cheltenham Festival next month. The Nicky Henderson horse will take in the Denman Chase at Newbury as connections look to sharpen him up before the defence of his Gold Cup crown. The reputation of the horse has taken a slight knock this season with two successive defeats behind Kauto Star but he remains the favourite for the Gold Cup after his success last year. He still has age on his side and a run at Newbutry this week is seen as the ideal way for him to improve his jumping which has been under pressure this season. Kauto Star has set a strong gallop in the Betfair Chase and the King George Chase this season which has put Long Run under pressure at every single fence. That is sure to be the plan once again in the Gold Cup for Kauto star so connections of Long Run will be hoping his jumping improves ahead of their big clash at Festival.
The newly named Denman Chase is one of the final Gold Cup trial races of the season and according to the latest show of betting it is Long Run's to lose. There is no doubt that he should win if he is at his best but there are one or two nice types set to oppose him at Newbury. Paul Nicholls has said that he has been training What A Friend with the Gold Cup in mind all season and they are certainly expecting a decent run from him at Newbury. The Sir Alex Ferguson owned horse is a Grade 1 winner and although he has not quite kicked on like many thought he would he could still have his best days ahead of him. Other potential runners in the Denman Chase include the likes of Burton Port who could also run for Nicky Henderson and The Giant Bolster who was a brilliant winner last time out and should be respected. In truth though all eyes are on Long Run who needs to secure an impressive win as we count down the weeks to the defence of his Gold Cup crown at the Festival.