we are away this weekend so no usual tips but as a bonus we have a full preview of the Betfair chase below.
Long Run leads a small but star studded field in this year’s Betfair Chase as fans flock to Haydock Park for the Grade 1 feature, despite the torrential weather.
The 2011 Gold Cup winner will face five others in a bid to win his first Grade 1 since that emphatic victory at the festival 18 months ago.
A victory will mark the 7-year-olds first at Haydock after being defeated by a rejuvenated Kauto Star last year.
Fans will get the chance to see the five-time King George and two-time Gold Cup winner as he is paraded around the Lancashire Course in recognition of his achievements after his retirement last month.
Old foe Long Run will be hoping the absence of the Paul Nicholls 12-year-old will allow him to go onto to greater Grade 1 success.
However, since the retirement of Kauto Star, Paul Nicholls has been searching for the next joker in the pack and that could come in the form of Silviniaco Conti.
The six-year-old looked much improved than he did as a very impressive novice last season in taking the Charlie Hall in commanding style.
The promising chaser scored by 11 lengths to Wayward Prince and although this will be tougher, should he have more improvement, then the Betfair Chase may well stay with Paul Nicholls.
Best Price: William Hill 13/8
With a King George and a Gold Cup held to his name in the season of 2010/11, last season (2011/12) was very much a reminder of how competitive this 3m division is.
Many thought after Long Run saw off both Kauto Star and Denman in the 2011 Gold Cup as a six-year-old, that he would go on to dominate the division, but that was not the case.
Kauto Star came back with a bang last year with some spectacular jumping displays that left his rivals, including Long Run, miles behind in terms of all round style and class.
Indeed it has always been Long Run’s inability to jump consistently that has often let him down in races.
Had he not made a mistake at the last in the King George VI last year then we may well be talking about this still young and talented horse in slightly better stead.
That said, although his jumping is ordinary, everything else about this horse is class from head-to-toe.
The fact that he has won Grade 1 races whilst making jumping errors shows how good Long Run potentially could be.
We sometimes may forget that he is still only a 7-year-old and has much improvement in him, and this potentially could be the year that Long Run really puts his name into the all time greats.
His sole victory last year came against Burton Port at Newbury in February where he saw off his stablemate by ½ a length whilst giving away 10lbs in weight.
Some saw that display as mediocre but that is arguably the best Long Run has jumped and had he jumped as well in the Gold Cup I think he may well have won.
Despite all the criticism, Long Run is still the horse to beat on this side of the Irish Sea at least.
I sense as a 7-year-old he may well have done some growing up over the summer and should his jumping improve, expect to see this superstar in and around the mix come Gold Cup day in March.
Best Price: William Hill 9/4
There is a big reputation on this six-year-olds shoulders following the retirement of Kauto Star last month.
Kauto Star was one of the first horses to carry large fan bases wherever he went.
People would travel the country with their yellow, purple and green memorabilia to see Kauto Star and they will seek a replacement.
After demolishing a field of six in the Charlie Hall at Wetherby last month, Silviniaco Conti may well be given that responsibility.
Of course Long Run has fans of his own but there will be a number of Kauto Star fans lumping on this Paul Nicholls trained horse to finish what Kauto Star left behind.
Paul Nicholls has been very impressed in this horse and is confident he can be a King George/ Gold Cup contender come Christmas and March and there will be no better way to enter them off a victory over Long Run.
His record is very impressive scoring on eight of his 13 runs with defeats only to Invictus, Menorah, Cue Card, Grands Crus and Mile Chief.
But it is the look of improvement that makes this horse so exciting. He has definitely got a chance should he improve from the run at Wetherby.
Best Price: Betfred 11/2
If there was an award at running fresh then Weird Al would be up there with the best of them.
The Donald McCain trained 9-year-old has won every one of his season debuts and is good value at 11/2 to continue that trend.
McCain pulled him out of the Charlie Hall last month, instead eyeing this as his fresh run and he is expecting a big run.
We saw with For Non Stop last month that horses that like running fresh seem to produce their best form and for that reason Weird Al is very much in the mix for this grade 1.
Due to liking being run fresh, Weird Al has been lightly ran all of his career scoring six times in his 12 races over a period of four ½ years.
He should take to the soft ground and should he produce the form he is possible of, will be in the mix whether it is for the win or E/W.
The Giant Bolster
Best Price: Coral 6/1
A very impressive yet unexpected second in the Gold Cup in March this seven-year-old is the complete opposite of Weird Al after been heavily ran through his career.
A total of 20 races has seen only four wins but many believe he can improve on that Cheltenham performance.
That Cheltenham performance saw him jump the last level with Long Run before staying on to beat Long Run by ¾ of a length.
However, even with improvement it is unlikely he will repeat that Cheltenham performance fresh and it maybe later in the season where we see the true potential of this David Bridgwater trained 7-year-old.
Best Price: SkyBet 16/1
If the words of trainer Collin Tizzard are anything to go by, the heavier the ground the better for Cannington Brook.
The eight-year-old has not won for over a year and unless the ground is like treacle I find it very hard to give him a hope.
Best left alone even if the ground does get heavy. E/W value should the ground become an issue.
Best Price: Betfred 33/1
Well beaten by Silviniaco Conti at Wetherby last month and there is nothing to suggest he is likely to reverse that form.
Winner: Long Run 13/8 Each Way: Weird Al 11/2