Imperial Commander set for Long Run clash at Haydock
AS Flat racing followers get ready to hear news of the French inquiry into Frankie Dettori's positive drugs test, jumping fans have much to look forward to at Haydock on Saturday.
Former Cheltenham Gold Cup winners Long Run and Imperial Commander head the nine entries for the Betfair Chase at the Liverpool venue.
Nicky Henderson's Long Run, which took the Cheltenham highlight in 2011, chased home the rejuvenated Kauto Star in this Grade One 12 months ago.
It has been a long road back for Imperial Commander, the 2010 Betfair winner which was pulled up on his most recent start in the Gold Cup that Long Run won.
Paul Nicholls, who has won four of the seven runnings of the event, could rely upon the recent Charlie Hall Chase winner Silviniaco Conti and Tidal Bay, which won the John Smith's Hurdle on the same day at Wetherby.
This year's Gold Cup runner-up The Giant Bolster could make his seasonal reappearance for David Bridgwater, but there are no Irish entries.
A horse touted as a possible Gold Cup contender, David Pipe's Grands Crus, is to be treated for a breathing issue detected after his ordinary run in Saturday's Paddy Power Gold Cup where he was pulled up before the second-last.
"Geoff Lane (a renowned vet) had a look at him and he wasn't happy with his wind," said Pipe.
At Plumpton yesterday, Barry Geraghty was on the mark after guiding Broadbackbob (3/10 favourite) to an impressive debut over fences. The Henderson-trained gelding put in a foot-perfect round under the Meath rider to easily beat Highway Code.
Meanwhile, Dettori today attends a France Galop inquiry over his positive test for a banned substance at Longchamp in September.
It has been widely reported Dettori failed the test due to the presence of cocaine and faces a six-month ban, which is expected to be reciprocated by racing jurisdictions worldwide.
Betfair Chase – Sponsors' odds: 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