What a belter today's Betfair Chase is at Haydock.

Yes the first six in the betting for next year's Cheltenham Gold Cup are the exact half dozen to face the starter at 3.05pm.

Among the six is last year's Gold Cup winner Long Run who carried all before him and the frightening thing is his age. Nicky Henderson's star is still a six-year-old and I travelled to London on Thursday morning to meet up with his amateur jockey Sam Waley-Cohen, who runs a dental practice throughout the week before riding his star horse (owned by his father Robert) at the weekends.

Reflecting on last season performance, which included the William Hill King George at Kempton, Waley-Cohen said: "I genuinely think there is less pressure this season as we have proved to everyone that we are both good enough.

"He truly is a horse of a lifetime and I'm trying very hard to enjoy him properly as I know we will ever get another one like him.

After jogging a few miles around Battersea Park (something the jockey does every day to try and get fit like the McCoys of this world) you get a real feeling how much this means to his whole family but he knows today's race his no dress rehearsal, Betfair have come up with the cash and this is the real thing: "It's a cracking race and I have the upmost respect for every single runner in the line-up.

"I feel that Kauto Star is the forgotten horse in the race - his CV is so impressive including winning this race three times.

"That said, I wouldn't swap Long Run for anything in the race and just hope we get a clear run around and the best horse wins.

"I have been to ride him out a lot recently and he feels amazing, proper amazing."

Waley-Cohen is a credit to his amateur status and after his ‘long run' he is ready for Long Run, among his dangers are the first two home in Wetherby's Charlie Hall Chase, Weird Al and Time For Rupert but I can't help feel they might all have to step up a gear or two to stay with the champion, a bit like me running with his jockey!

It would be great to see Kauto Star run a big race at Haydock before retirement looms, owner Clive Smith and trainer Paul Nicholls look to have a great chance with Master Minded who bids to follow-up last year's success in the Amlin 1965 Chase at Ascot, due off at 2.10pm.

Third in the Old Roan Chase at Aintree first time out this season, he is given the chance here to prove form is temporary and ability is permanent.