Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 12 July 2014

The Punter: Long-awaited return for Long Run

Imperial Commander's anticipated return at Haydock this Saturday has been postponed

Former Gold Cup winner Long Run makes his seasonal reappearance in Saturday's Betfair Chase at Haydock, a race in which Imperial Commander was also due for a comeback but that has now been delayed.

Grounded: Imperial Commander’s anticipated return at Haydock this Saturday has been postponedFORMER Gold Cup winner Long Run makes his seasonal reappearance in Saturday's Betfair Chase at Haydock, a race in which Imperial Commander was also due for a comeback but that has now been delayed.

The Commander has been off the track since being pulled up in Long Run's 2011 Gold Cup race and he won't appear until at least the New Year according to trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies.

“He's suffered a small fracture of a splint bone in a hind leg unfortunately. It's nothing dramatic, but it means he won't be in full work for around six weeks. It's disappointing but these things happen,” said Twiston-Davies.

Long Run was short of work last year when going down by eight lengths to Kauto but owner Robert Waley-Cohen insists the horse will be much straighter this time and hence his price of 11/10.

Weird Al is another having his first outing in the new jumping campaign and makes his comeback since being pulled up in the Grand National.

He has a bit to find to reverse form with Long Run in this race last year while The Giant Bolster, runner-up in to the ill-fated Synchronised at Cheltenham back in March, has to come into the picture big time for trainer David Bridgewater and at a big odds of 8/1, is the each-way value.

However, Paul Nicholls, who has won four of the seven runnings of the Lancashire highlight and is in cracking form in big races so far this season, has his recent Charlie Hall Chase winner Silviniaco Conti bidding for a quick follow-up and at 11/4 is his main contender.

The way the latter ran and jumped the Wetherby fences, sets him up for a big future now that's he out of novice company. If he goes here, he'll not run in Boxing Day's King George VI Chase and that's a major tip in itself.

Another Saturday of celebration looms for the trainer and Ruby Walsh.

Over at Ascot, Champion Chase winner Finian's Rainbow is likely to run in the Amlin Chase.

He got the better of Sizing Europe in somewhat fortunate circumstances and then won again in Aintree's Melling Chase. But he may be caught out here by For Non Stop, handled by Nick Williams and a solid winner at the last Aintree meeting.

Whatever the outcome, Rainbow's trainer Nicky Henderson, odds-on to be champion handler this season, should be on the mark with his top class Oscar Whisky in the Ascot Hurdle over 2m 3.1/2f.

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