Brook Remains Value at 20/1
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1pt win Cannington Brook in 15.05 Haydock at 20/1 (Coral, Stan James, sportingbet).
1pt e.w Los Nadis in 14.30 Haydock at 33/1 (General 1/4 1,2,3,4).
The Betfair Chase market revolves around Long Run, whose wins in the King George and Cheltenham Gold Cup last year earned him a BHA rating of 182 - only Kauto Star and Master Minded have recorded higher numbers this century.
If he records within 10lb of that figure in the testing ground at Haydock on Saturday the 13/8 available about him on Friday afternoon will look huge, but the horse we saw win once from four starts last season looked far from a 182-rated chaser.
The zip he showed as a six-year-old had gone and suddenly average horses were beating him.
You could never describe Kauto Star as average, but he was at the end of his career, while Synchronised and The Giant Bolster should not have got within 10 lengths (and plenty more) of Long Run if you believed the figures.
The handicapper has dropped Long Run 4lb to 178 but I can't believe he's capable of running to anywhere near that rating on Saturday and on his seasonal debut in what is going to be a gruelling test he has to be taken on.
I would tread very carefully when trusting the Gold Cup form as a whole, with The Giant Bolster looking an artificially short price on that run. He also has to prove he can perform to a good standard away from Cheltenham.
Silviniaco Conti is on the upgrade and is sure to be a popular choice being a Paul Nicholls-trained horse on a Saturday, but he has to prove himself on very soft ground and at 9/4 I think you want to be pretty sure he'll go through it.
Weird Al is interesting as he goes well first time out and he did handle testing conditions very well when trained by Ian Williams.
It could be the right time to catch him but 6/1 is only a fair price about a horse that has failed to complete in three of his last five runs.
Instead, I'd rather chance CANNINGTON BROOK at 20/1.
This horse was available at 50/1 earlier in the week but as the rain keeps falling so has his price but there is still some juice in it as he is the best equipped to deal with a stamina-sapping test in the Lancashire mud.
Twice before he has won at Haydock in tough conditions and though those efforts were in handicaps, he's the only one in the field you could be confident about relishing the test.
He's miles behind on the figures and on good ground he would be outclassed, of that there is no doubt, but in this case I think it's best to ignore the ratings and concentrate on who will thrive in the mud.
Going back to Long Run being beaten by average horses - Cannington Brook can be filed in that particular drawer. But 20/1 remains a fair price with the ground massively in his favour.
Earlier on I'll be chancing another mudlark in the Betfair Don't Settle For Less 'Fixed Brush' Handicap Hurdle in the form of LOS NADIS who looks worth backing at 33s.
The handicapper has dropped him 5lb after two poor runs over hurdles but he travelled and jumped well in the lead last time at Aintree before a slow leap on the final circuit knocked him out of his rhythm.
Eased late on, I believe there was plenty of encouragement to take out of that performance especially now he's back on a competitive mark.
The last three times he's run off 130 he was placed at Ayr, Aintree and Perth, with his effort in Liverpool an excellent one.
Relatively unexposed over three miles over hurdles, he proved on the Flat at Ayr only two months ago how well he goes through heavy ground.
At the right end of the weights for this three mile contest that will take some getting, he looks worth an each-way investment.
Keep an eye on the non-runners, though, as just one defection will change the place terms. The pessimist inside me would offer pretty big odds about the dead 16 going off.