Long Run put up a magnificent performance to win the William Hill King George VI Chase at Kempton as Kauto Star’s attempt at an amazing fifth victory came up short.
The Paul Nicholls-trained champion was always in the front rank as Nacarat led the way, but he began to come under pressure as they turned into the straight and he looked well beaten when a bad blunder at the second-last put paid to any chance of a recovery.
Long Run (9-2) had taken command at that stage and he ran on strongly under amateur rider Sam Waley-Cohen to beat his Nicky Henderson-trained stable companion Riverside Theatre by 12 lengths, with the odds-on Kauto Star in third.
Waley-Cohen said: “He walked through the first, but the thing we wanted to do was to get him to jump.
“It was a change of tactics to just go big and bold, and a couple of times I wasn’t sure if I would get to the other side. But we had to take the sword to the king.
“I had one eye on Kauto, but when we turned in I wondered where he was, as we were travelling so sweetly. Nacarat was still going well and I was listening for Kauto and I didn’t think he was coming. I just wanted to get around the turn and then kick over the last three fences.
“It’s just a special day. It’s absolutely amazing. He’s a phenomenal horse and I’m so pleased he’s shown people what he is capable of.
“It’s a massive honour to be on a horse like this. Kauto Star is a true champion and Tony McCoy is an idol for everyone in the weighing room – to be involved in a race like this is such a privilege.
“I’d like to thank everyone who has helped me.”
Henderson added: “Sam has done brilliantly. He has worked very hard and thought about it. He got the horse into the rhythm we needed and gave him a beautiful ride.”
With his son having done the steering, owner Robert Waley-Cohen was a proud father as he said: “What could be better than that? There is no bigger adrenalin rush in the world.
“That’s the perfect riposte [to criticism of the jockey]. He has justified my faith in him. It’s absolutely fantastic. What could be better than winning a Grade One race?”
Bino a Christmas cracker
Binocular put up a superb show of fast and accurate jumping to land the williamhill.com Christmas Hurdle at Kempton in tremendous style.
The Champion Hurdle hero was ridden close to the pace set by Overturn for most of the way and had all his rivals in trouble as they turned into the straight in the rearranged Grade One event. Overturn stuck on well, but Binocular (13-8 favourite) skipped over the last two flights under Tony McCoy and was not pressed to win by three and three-quarter lengths, with Starluck in third. McCoy said: “He’s getting there. His hurdling was pretty accurate off a good gallop on testing ground.
“I still think it’s a good bit below his Champion Hurdle performance, but it was an improvement on Newbury (third in the Fighting Fifth Hurdle), which is what we wanted.
“He was fresh and buzzy the last day, and any horse that wins a two-mile championship race at Cheltenham must be a good stayer. He travels but he definitely stays, and I didn’t want to be too far off Overturn in that ground.”
Trainer Nicky Henderson added: “I thought this could be another day where we still might get beaten as it’s a track that favours the speed horses, but to win like that, I’m very impressed.
“We’re getting to where we want to be and I think we will stick to the plan and go for the Contenders Hurdle at Sandown next.”
Trainer Donald McCain said of Overturn, having his first start since disappointing when last in the Ebor at York last August: “We were delighted – he’s a very tough horse.
“We could take a look at the Kingwell or the race at Sandown and if I didn’t have Peddlers Cross, I’d be thrilled with this lad. He will come on a touch for the run.”
Shinrock Paddy bounced back to winning form with a terrific display to give weight away all round in the Limestone Lad Hurdle at Naas.
The seven-year-old had won a moderate event at this track on his seasonal bow, but finished only fifth in the Christmas Hurdle at Leopardstown and was dropped back in trip and to Grade Three company here.
The 5-1 chance was bustled along by Alain Cawley to take it up two from home and, by the time favourite Donnas Palm arrived on the scene, it was all to late as Shinrock Paddy had flown, prevailing by two and a half lengths.
Winning trainer Paul Nolan said: “He disappointed at Leopardstown. I thought the way he travelled there that the one thing he’d do would be gallop to the line.
“Maybe he didn’t see out the three miles, but he didn’t give us any impression beforehand that it would be a problem.
“It was a 50-50 decision to run here as we were going to wait for the Boyne Hurdle at Navan [that will be his next start next month].
“However, he came out of Leopardstown so well for a horse that shouldn’t have, that we decided to take a chance here and it paid off.
“Any day he has run well he has hit a flat spot. He has been a good servant and he’ll go chasing next year.
“I don’t think Barry [Connell, owner] is interested in bringing him to Cheltenham as he has disappointed a few times over there. Anyway the ground is essential to him – he wants it soft.”