Long Run officially ran 16lbs below his best when finishing an eight-length second to the mighty Kauto Star in a stunning renewal of the Grade 1 Betfair Chase at Haydock on Saturday, but Phil Smith, senior handicapper at the British Horseracing Authority, has left his rating unchanged anticipating that the defending King George VI Chase winner will show his true colours at Kempton Park on Boxing Day, writes Elliot Slater.

Kauto Star, who may renew rivalry with Long Run at Kempton, has been raised 4lbs for his stunning victory to a mark of 174, an incredible achievement for a horse who is only weeks away from his 12th birthday. Those looking at the Betfair King George VI Chase Betting should remember this.

But Long Run remains on a mark of 182 with Smith taking the opinion that the imperious Cheltenham Gold Cup winner will come on considerably for this first outing of the term, much as he did 12 months ago when showing tremendous improvement from his third place finish in the Paddy Power Gold Cup Handicap at Cheltenham on his seasonal bow to his breathtaking runaway victory over Kauto Star in the ‘King George’ last December that first announced him as a potential champion. Fans of King George VI Horse racing will know what a stalwart he is.

Long Run is an intended starter at the Sunbury track on Boxing Day, but as yet there is no word as to whether or not Kauto Star will be given the opportunity to bid for a fifth victory in the top class event following his Haydock heroics. Bookmakers seriously revised the ante-post market for the big Christmas period event in light of the result of the Betfair Chase, slashing Kauto Star from as big as 20/1 to a general offer of 5/1, whilst Long Run has been pushed out from even money to as big as 13/8 in places.

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