Thursday, November 11, 2010
By Stephen Dwyer
I like dentists. I think they have a tough vocation but a necessary one. If I have a toothache I go to see Mr. McCarron in Kilkenny, if I have a horse that is a leading contender for The King George I don’t go to Mr. McCarron, I go to Ruby Walsh or Tony McCoy.
Long Run an exceptional five year old lines up for the Paddy Power Gold Cup on Saturday, his jockey will be an amateur claiming five pounds. Mr. Sam Waley-Cohen, a London businessman runs a company which acquires private dental practices. He would not be the first choice for a horse of Long Run’s calibre and without being sardonic; it helps if the owner of the horse is your father. The jockey’s father is none other than Robert Waley-Cohen who appears in the Sunday Times Rich list with a private fortune of £30 million from founding a medical device company.
To be fair to Mr. Sam Waley-Cohen, he had a 23% strike rate last season. Granted he only won 3 races out of 13 starts and he is only a slip of a man, his lowest riding weight last year was 9-13. Not many amateurs achieved what he did in 2007 when finishing fifth in the Grand National on Liberthine.
Riding Long Run, Waley-Cohen won his first two starts in England by a combined total of 26 lengths, one over 3 miles, the other over 2. In the RSA he finished third on a day when his jumping was not spectacular. Still he was the youngest in the race and could not cope with the speed horse, Weapon's Amnesty.
The Paddy Power Gold Cup is no RSA, it is a Grade 3 Handicap Chase. Faced with a stiff ask off 11-6, Long Run is joint-youngest in the race, the other 5 year old is 50-1 chance Rory Boy who carries 10-0. Long Run is already a Grade 1 winner having won the Feltham in Kempton on St. Stephen’s Day but I think is vulnerable tomorrow. Trained by Nicky Henderson, his stable mate 8yo Mad Max beat Somersby (second in the Arkle) at Aintree and he is a massive scopey sort who has trained well and will relish the trip.
Poquelin is tough 7yo, an acutely accurate jumper who won the Grade 2 Boylesports.com Gold Cup over 2m 5f last December, Paul Nicholls has never won the race and he has strong place claims. He runs off a mark of 158 but 5 year olds have a desperate record in the race. The only 5yo to win this race in 50 years was Cyfor Malta in 1998. Good horses win The Paddy Power, Imperial Commander two years ago and look at what he has achieved.
I would like to see Long Run defying the records and his jockey stuffing his critics and he needs to win convincingly in order to justify his odds as second-favourite to Kauto Star for The King George.
Ultimately Long Run was bought by Robert Waley-Cohen for his son to ride so we are unlikely to see Barry Geraghty aboard any time soon. If however he puts in a poor performance tomorrow and in the King George, a private present from father to son will remain just that.