Colin Tizzard is hoping a return to Haydock can help Cannington Brook get his season back on track as he defends his crown in the Blue Square Bet Tommy Whittle Handicap Chase.
The eight-year-old has won twice from three starts at the Merseyside track and his defeat came in last month's Betfair Chase, where he was unsurprisingly last of five in a top-class field.
He disappointed when having his sights lowered at Chepstow last time, but Tizzard is keen to put a line through that and is confident of a big run this weekend, despite him being a stone higher in the weights than when winning this once prestigious event 12 months ago.
The trainer said: "Hopefully it will be nice deep sloshy ground, that's what we want. He won it last year. I know he's carrying 14lb more then he did then, but it's his sort of race. We could have waited for the Welsh National, but this looks a bit more winnable than that, so that's why we're going there.
"I was slightly disappointed the last time he ran. He wouldn't be the first horse to disappoint in heavy ground, but that is what I think he wants. This is why he's in at this time of the year, to race on heavy ground."
Douglas Julian won well at Kelso on his latest start and his trainer Sue Smith is looking forward to another prominent display.
The Bingley-based handler said: "He jumped well at Kelso, the ground will suit him absolutely and he's in good form. All should be well. He's got a sensible weight and we've got a good claimer (Jonathan England) on board taking 7lb off."
Rich Lord put in a solid display when third to Junior in the Rehearsal Chase at Newcastle and his trainer Ferdy Murphy expects the eight-year-old to relish the stamina-sapping conditions.
"I think he'll run well. He ran very well in the Rehearsal Chase," said the West Witton handler. "The track will suit him, he'll love the ground and he must have a nice chance. I'd be very happy with him at the moment. He seems to have improved a bit from Newcastle."
Merry King is a novice taking on handicappers, but his trainer Jonjo O'Neill feels he deserves the chance to prove himself. He said: "He's in great form. He's a novice going into a handicap, so it's a big jump up. He should like the ground and it will be a test for his jumping, but he does jump well for a novice."
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