Henderson: Different look to Star war
Nicky Henderson admits that his current Gold Cup hero Long Run will be facing a different Kauto Star than the one he comprehensively beat in the Cheltenham showpiece last March.
Kauto Star has twice beaten Long Run this season and Henderson quipped: "People were baying for his retirement last year and I wish Paul had listened to them!"
Long Run opened his account for the season at Newbury earlier this month when he just held his stable companion Burton Port by a fast diminishing half a length and the trainer feels the tactics employed on Kauto Star on their previous meetings this season may not be as easily put into practice next month.
"I don't think there's any doubt this is a different horse to the one we were playing with last year," said Henderson. "Ruby (Walsh) has really put the turbo on early with Kauto this year and Cheltenham is a different track to do it on.
"In the Gold Cup they tend to wind up the pace and if he's going to go on, he's got another two and a half furlongs up the hill to go."
Kauto Star was simply no match for Long Run last season, but has managed to level their personal duel this term and the trainer added: "We were two-love up and now it's two-all and it's going to be a very interesting battle.
"I've a nasty feeling public opinion will go with the old favourite and I'll be very unpopular if we beat him. I don't think there's much between them."
Henderson revealed that Long Run will do one more session with jumping expert Yogi Breisner prior to the Gold Cup and he'll also run Burton Port in the race following his very good return to action behind Long Run.
Henderson was slow to get carried away by his other leading Festival fancy, Sprinter Sacre, who will line up in the Arkle.
"Donald McCain says Peddlers Cross wasn't right at Kempton, and I'd go along with that, while we beat a far from tuned up French Opera at Newbury, so although you could say he hasn't beaten anything yet, what has been amazing are his times," he said.