Long Run looks to regain lost luster

Updated 26 December 2012
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Long Run looks to regain lost luster

LONDON: Long Run bids today to regain his King George VI Chase crown which he won so impressively two years ago but to do so he must rediscover the form he displayed then.
Long Run — trained by master handler Nicky Henderson — looked as if he was going to dominate the chasing scene for years to come when he won the King George at the astonishingly young age of six and then went on to capture the blue riband of the jumps, the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
However, last season put a dampener on that notion, winding up with a limp defense of his Gold Cup crown when he finished a well-beaten third behind Synchronized, who tragically was killed in the Grand National a month later.
With him gone and the legend Kauto Star retired — and controversially sent to be transformed into a dressage horse — Long Run will take on nine rivals at Kempton Park in what is effectively the mid-season steeplechase championship.
He comes into the race on the back of finishing second behind Silviniaco Conti last month in the Betfair Chase — the same race he was beaten by eight lengths by Kauto Star last season — but Henderson believes that he is in the right form to win.
“Everything has gone right. Haydock went much better this year than it did last year, probably thanks to no Kauto Star to thump him,” the 62-year-old told At The Races.
“OK, we got beaten, but he ran well and was probably straighter and didn’t get quite as hard a race.
“He improved dramatically from last year’s Haydock race to the King George. We only got beaten less then two lengths by Kauto instead of eight.
“We’d expect to find that improvement, and I’d be hopeful that the ground is the one thing that can play to his strengths. Everything has gone well, the schooling has gone well and his work has been great.
“I think he goes in there with as big a chance as he had two years ago and we’d like the same again,” added Henderson, who also saddles Riverside Theatre.
Among those hoping to prevent a repeat of his 2010 victory will be the surprise Gold Cup runner-up The Giant Bolster, who was third in the Betfair and due to be ridden by Tony McCoy, and Captain Chris, who was third in the King George last year.
“He’s flying, in tip-top condition,” said The Giant Bolster’s trainer David Bridgewater.
“It was a superb run at Haydock and he’s come on a bundle from it. I’m getting very excited about the race.” David Pipe has two in the race, Grands Cru and Junior but perhaps the most interesting contender is Kauto Star’s half-brother Kauto Stone, who will sight his stellar relation as he is due to be paraded before the race.
His trainer Paul Nicholls says there is little similarity between the two brothers.
“There aren’t any similarities with Kauto Star. He’s half the size, he’s a different color and has a different profile.
“He doesn’t look a first cousin, but he’s a Grade One winner and a decent horse in his own right.”


'We want to make Saudi Arabia proud': Pizzi promises better showing against Egypt

Updated 21 June 2018
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'We want to make Saudi Arabia proud': Pizzi promises better showing against Egypt

  • Saudi Arabia cannot progress from Group A even if they defeat Egypt in their final game on Monday
  • Wednesday’s overall performance was much improved, yet a lack of penetrative passing was obvious

ROSTOV-ON-DON: “Keeping possession of the ball seems to be the absolute and most important thing, but then when you sometimes find issues in getting the ball into your opponent’s half, you have to find other movements and ways of doing that,” said Oscar Tabarez after watching his lackluster Uruguay rely on a solitary Luis Suarez goal to eliminate Saudi Arabia from the World Cup. 
Tabarez was talking about his own team’s struggles, yet the assessment is considerably more applicable to the Green Falcons, who dominated possession and retained the ball with ease in midfield, yet for the second match running looked absolutely bereft of ideas in the final third. With Uruguay and Russia now on six points, Saudi Arabia cannot progress from Group A even if they defeat Egypt in their final game on Monday.
The Green Falcons coach Juan Antonio Pizzi confirmed he intends to stay at the helm of the side for the long-haul, yet is only too aware that the potential of this team is being hamstrung by its inability to score. He called it “our weakness”, adding that his side enjoyed “good ball possession, but no effectiveness”. They, he said, did not have the sufficient “weapons or tools” to equalize.
Pizzi’s side have found the net now just twice in their past five games and against Uruguay managed only three shots on target in 90 minutes — two of which came in added time and were so tame they would hardly have troubled the opposition goalkeeper Fernando Muslera had he been relaxing at his far post sipping a drink. In the 5-0 defeat to Russia last week, they failed to muster a single shot on target. 
Wednesday’s overall performance was much improved, yet a lack of penetrative passing was obvious. One passage of play in the opening exchanges saw Saudi Arabia complete 16 passes untroubled without the ball entering the opposition penalty box. When Uruguay finally won possession, they required only four quick exchanges to find Edinson Cavani on the left wing drilling the ball across the front of goal. 
“I don’t share that assessment,” said Pizzi, when it was put to him that his team was too slow to attack. “We played at the speed that was necessary. We need to be accurate, but if you step up the speed you lose accuracy with your passes. We had control of the game and that was why.”
Striker Mohammed Al-Sahlawi had been the focal point of much criticism from Turki Al-Sheikh, the head of Saudi’s General Sports Authority, after the Russia “fiasco” and was dropped from the side against Uruguay. So too was goalkeeper Abdullah Al-Mayouf, another who Al-Sheikh name-checked as having been at fault.
Pizzi, asked whether the scathing assessment from his bosses had forced his hand when it came to team selection, calmly dismissed the suggestion. He also ruled out the notion that administrative issues between the players and the country’s football federation had caused unrest in his squad.
“I have a list of 23 players here and they are all available to play. We are here together and pushing in the same direction. 
“I wanted — and still want — to make the Saudi Arabian people feel proud of our energy and the desire we show in matches. Unfortunately we were unable to do that against Russia and will be playing our next match without any hope of progressing. I hope now they will feel a little more proud even though we are out of the World Cup,” he said.