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Last Updated: December 21, 2012 3:29pm
Cannington Brook: Returns to the scene of his finest hour
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.
"Hopefully it will be nice deep sloshy ground, that's what we want," said Tizzard.
"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.
"He jumped well at Kelso, the ground will suit him absolutely and he's in good form," said the Bingley-based handler.
"All should be well. He's got a sensible weight and we've got a good claimer (Jonathan England) on board taking 7lb off."
Douglas Julian is the rival that Alan Jones, trainer of Quincy Des Pictons fears the most.
"He's fit and well, but he's not very big and still a bit high in the handicap," said the Somerset handler.
"I think Sue Smith's horse (Douglas Julian) will take all the beating. That's the horse I'm looking to target, but I'm very hopeful."
Mumbles Head only got as far as the first fence in the Becher Chase over the Grand National course at Aintree last time, but his trainer Peter Bowen reports the 11-year-old to be ready to return to the fray.
"He's been fine since Aintree. He didn't do anything there, he just had a canter round," said the Haverfordwest handler.
"He enjoyed the spin, he was bouncing there and needs a run, but we could do with better ground.
"He's going to take his chance anyway as long as it's on. On the form he showed at Aintree on his previous run he should be thereabouts. Fingers crossed and hopefully it doesn't rain too much."
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. There are a couple in there with recent form that would be OK, but he has a chance."
Merry King is a novice taking on handicappers but his trainer Jonjo O'Neill feels he deserves the chance to prove himself.
"He's in great form. He's a novice going into a handicap, so it's a big jump up," said the Jackdaws Castle handler.
"He should like the ground and it will be a test for his jumping, but he does jump well for a novice."