Long Run has been cut to 11/10 to win the Betfair Chase after the withdrawal of Imperial Commander, but the favourite is certainly worth taking on given the depth of competition that still remains.
No horse arguably has more to prove than Long Run after his three defeats last season when a well-backed favourite – in the Betfair Chase, the King George and the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
Imperial Commander would have been hard to back in any case given the length of his lay-off and so him being pulled out because of a minor fracture does not change that much.
In terms of ability, Long Run has to be considered the best horse in the race, but punters are taking a risk that he has re-found his best form over the summer break.
Second-season chasers have been enjoying a sustained stint in the spotlight in the early stages of the campaign, with Cue Card, For Non Stop and most recently Al Ferof landing high-profile contests.
Silvinaco Conti is capable of continuing this run of form and 2/1 may not be the worst price given that he has the advantage of having already shaken off any summer rust this season.
His appearance was also an impressive one, classily running away with the Charlie Hall Chase and with Haydock being a relatively flat track, conditions should play to his strengths again.
The Giant Bolster comes next in the betting at 6/1 and finished ahead of Long Run in the Cheltenham Gold Cup in March.
Trainer David Bridgwater also believes that the horse has improved in the close season.
Weird Al is the other one that is dangerous to rule out at 7/1 and his record is particularly impressive when making his seasonal reappearance.
He won the Charlie Hall on his first start of last season and in total has won his last four seasonal reappearances.
Throw in that he has been given some extra rest, has a fine record on soft ground and is at his best in smaller fields, he has to enter each-way calculations.
All odds and markets accurate as of publication’s time and date