Big guns set for Betfair Chase
Cheltenham Gold Cup winners Long Run and Imperial Commander both appear among the nine entries for Saturday's Betfair Chase at Haydock.
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Nicky Henderson's Long Run, who took the Cheltenham highlight in 2011, chased home the rejuvenated Kauto Star in this valuable Grade One event 12 months ago.
It has been a long road back for Imperial Commander, the 2010 Betfair winner who was pulled up on his most recent start in Long Run's Gold Cup.
Paul Nicholls, who has won four of the seven runnings of the Lancashire highlight, could rely upon the recent Charlie Hall Chase winner Silviniaco Conti and Tidal Bay, who bolted up in the John Smith's Hurdle on the same day at Wetherby.
The Neil Mulholland-trained Midnight Chase and Wayward Prince, now with Hilary Parrott, who were both well beaten in the Charlie Hall, are still engaged.
This year's Gold Cup runner-up The Giant Bolster could make his seasonal reappearance for David Bridgwater, while the Donald McCain-trained Weird Al and Colin Tizzard's Cannington Brook complete the line-up.
McCain said: "He is in grand form and I am very happy with him.
"He didn't run in the Charlie Hall Chase this year because I just wanted to give him a bit more time.
"He ran well in the Betfair Chase last season and then he disappointed in the Gold Cup, but that's just the one run.
"He was still in with a chance when he came down in the Grand National.
"You would not be confident on Saturday when you are taking on horses of that quality but we would be hopeful he runs a big race.
"He likes nice ground but he will cope if the ground is soft as it was slow enough last year."
Imperial Commander's jockey Paddy Brennan is excited about the assignment, tweeting: "Had my final sit on Imperial Commander this am before the Betfair Chase on Sat. I jumped 8 fences on him & he felt great."
The bookmakers, as well as the betting exchange sponsor, all have Long Run as a favourite.
Betfair spokesman Tony Calvin said: "We have to be delighted with that field. Two Gold Cup winners, the second and third from last year's Cheltenham race, and other top class entries such as rising star Silviniaco Conti.
"And, with the possible exception of Tidal Bay, all look likely to stand their ground on Saturday.
"With that in mind, our trading department are keen to take on Long Run, and offer a top-priced 6-4 about him."
Sponsors bet: 6-4 Long Run, 11-4 Silviniaco Conti, 7-1 Imperial Commander, 8-1 The Giant Bolster, 10-1 Weird Al, 12-1 Tidal Bay, 20-1 Wayward Prince, 25-1 Midnight Chase, Cannington Brook