Ssam Waley-Cohen praised Long Run’s bravery after the gelding regained his crown in a thrilling finish to the William Hill King George VI Chase yesterday.
Waley-Cohen’s mount, owned by his father, Robert, who lives at Edgehill, near Banbury, looked like he may have to settle for a repeat of his runners-up spot of 12 months ago when Captain Chris outjumped him at the last fence.
But Long Run, trained by Nicky Henderson at Lambourn, dug deep on the run-in to collar Richard Johnson’s mount by a neck in the final strides.
Grands Crus was 14 lengths back in third.
The winning rider said: “He was so brave. I had to keep asking him – I asked him early and maybe I asked too much as he was tired, but so brave.
“This is his fifth year of competing at this level and he means an enormous amount to us.
“That was racing at its best for me. I can’t put it into words. It’s an honour and a privilege.”
Robert Waley-Cohen, whose seven-year-old also claimed the 2010 renewal, added: “He’s come here four times now and won three Grade Ones and been second to Kauto Star.
“I wasn’t absolutely sure that we had got back up, but as I came down the stairs from the stand, I saw his name go up and that was fantastic.”
It completed a dream day for the Waley-Cohens following Rajdhani Express’s success, while Henderson was completing a 76-1 four-timer on the card, having also saddled River Maigue and Darlan to score.
He said: “It has been a great day, and with Sam and that horse to come back like that, it was brilliant.”
Chipping Norton trainer Charlie Longsdon also struck at Kempton when Loose Chips (8-1) made all the running under Noel Fehily to take the closing handicap hurdle over two miles and five furlongs.