Sam Waley-Cohen is looking forward to riding Long Run again at Kempton on Boxing Day after finishing second to Silviniaco Conti in the Betfair Chase at Haydock on Saturday.
The 30-year-old amateur jockey felt the outing was just what the gelding needed ahead of the William Hill King George VI Chase.
Long Run, owned by Waley-Cohen’s father, Robert, who lives at Edgehill, near Banbury, and trained by Nicky Henderson at Lambourn, was beaten two and a half lengths by Paul Nicholls’s new star.
But connections hope it has not taken as much out of him as it did 12 months ago.
The target again is the King George which he won in the 2010-11 season and was runner-up to Kauto Star last Christmas.
“We were pleased with the run,” said Waley-Cohen. “We thought it was a good introduction to the season and gives us a good platform to go to the King George on.
“It’s always disappointing not to win, but he’s run up to a similar mark to his first runs of the season over the last couple of years.
“He’s got to improve from there, but in all his previous seasons he has and we hope he will again.
“He ran a good race and you always have to decide in one of those races whether that’s the day to go to the bottom of the tank, and it wasn’t.
“We were keen to avoid a repeat of his hard race against Kauto Star last year. It was very much about doing what you can, but not leaving your whole season at Haydock.”
Nicholls has his sights on Cheltenham rather than Kempton for Silviniaco Conti.
“I said if he won we’d go for the Gold Cup, and that is the plan,” he said.
“I’m not going to rush him and I might go straight to the Gold Cup with him. He could be really interesting, come Cheltenham.”