Weird Al: available at 8-1 with Ladbrokes for Saturday's Betfair ChasePICTURE: Martin Lynch (racingpost.com/photos)
McCain expects big run from Haydock fancy Al
LAST YEAR'S Betfair Chase third Weird Al should run a big race at Haydock this Saturday, according to trainer Donald McCain.
Weird Al finished two lengths behind Long Run 12 months ago, when a rejuvenated Kauto Star stormed home by eight lengths under Ruby Walsh.
Weird Al had a run under his belt going into the Haydock contest last year, having won the Charlie Hall Chase, but McCain was keen to give the nine-year-old more time to come right this season, rather than go to Wetherby.
His charge was introduced at 8-1 for this weekend's Grade 1 highlight by Ladbrokes on Monday, a price matched by Blue Square and Betfred.
McCain said: "The plan is to run Weird Al in the Betfair Chase. 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 quality but we would be hopeful he runs a big race."
Donald McCain: hopeful of a big run from Weird Al on SaturdayPICTURE: John Grossick (racingpost.com/photos)
McCain added: "He likes nice ground, but he will cope if the ground is soft as it was slow enough last year."
Kirkland Tellwright, clerk of the course at Haydock, said on Monday: "It was a wet weekend at Haydock and the going is currently soft, good to soft in places.
"The forecast was for significant rain, up to 7mm, both today and tomorrow. We have not had any rain yet today, but we are still expecting some to arrive.
"From Wednesday onwards, we are forecast 3mm of rain a day and I would think we will be racing on soft ground for the Betfair Chase festival."
Nine horses stood their ground for the Betfair Chase at the five-day stage on Monday, headed by Long Run, whose odds range from 11-10 with Ladbrokes to 6-4 with Coral and Betfred.
This year's Charlie Hall winner Silviniaco Conti is general 11-4 second favourite, with Imperial Commander (6-1) and The Giant Bolster (8-1) also in front of Weird Al in betting.
Paddy Brennan, who rides Imperial Commander, tweeted on Monday: "Had my final sit on Imperial Commander this am before the Betfair Chase on Sat. I jumped eight fences on him and he felt great."
A statue of Kauto Star, four-time winner of the Betfair Chase, is due to be unveiled on Saturday morning, and the legendary chaser will be at Haydock to parade in the afternoon.