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Nicky Henderson will step up Long Run’s preparations next week ahead of the King George VI Chase as he remains unconcerned about his heavyweight’s defeat at Haydock.

Long Run will return to Kempton on Boxing Day to defend his crown and is just 13-8 favourite despite his eight-length defeat to Kauto Star in the Betfair Chase.

Henderson points to the form of last season, where the six-year-old could only manage third in the Gold Cup at Cheltenham before demolishing Kauto Star as well as stablemate Riverside Theatre at Sunbury. He then went on to Cheltenham Gold Cup glory.

“He’s very good and seems very happy in himself,” Henderson said.

“As long as the King George is on the 26th (rather than postponed like last year), then hopefully we’ll get the timings right.”

The trainer admitted Kauto Star was going to be hard to beat again.

“Kauto beat us fair and square on the day and he could be better this year,” he said.

“He’s certainly going to be hard to beat and Paul Nicholls had him ready for the day.”

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