The day after the race, trainer Nicky Henderson pronounced the horse fit and well, although a test scope showed up poorly. He said, “There was a fair amount of gunge and blood and so on, and the vet scored it at three out of five, which is significant.” However, Henderson thought there was more to his Gold Cup winner’s poor showing than a load of muck in the lungs.
Now, new photos have come to light that help to explain what happened in the race, and led to Long Run finishing out of the first three for the first time in 27 starts. The commentary on the race said that at the 11th fence, in the back straight, “Long Run missed out there – he hit it hard.” That almost certainly caused the internal damage that led to the bad scope, but the mistake was worse than Henderson had realised.
After seeing the photos he told the Racing Post, “By chance, photographic evidence has come to light to pinpoint what went wrong. His mistake was much, much worse than it appeared to the naked eye in the stands, or TV camera. Long Run was between two other horses, which blocked the view. It really was a catastrophic mistake that would have stopped any horse and, having consulted with the vets and other experts, including Yogi Breisner, there’s little doubt that was why he showed some blood in his scope after the race.”
Henderson needs to speak to owner Robert Waley-Cohen to agree a final decision on Long Run’s next race. He’s entered in the Betfair Chase at Haydock on Saturday week. The owner said, “He will be prepared for the race but he will only go if we are 100% happy with him. There's no point going for a race like that against the best horses around if you are even 1% below your best. The horse will tell us if he's ready or not.”
A bid for a third King George at Kempton looks much more likely.