Nigel Twiston-Davies is hopeful that Bristol De Mai can take advantage of any potential fitness advantages at Haydock Park on Saturday (November 20th) afternoon, when he bids to equal the legendary Kauto Star’s tally of four victories in the Betfair Chase, the first Grade One of the Jump season.
The 10 year old has won five times from six visits to Haydock Park and added to victories in the 2017 and 2018 Betfair Chase when holding off Clan Des Obeux for a two-length success 12 months ago.
This year’s renewal looks a strong one at the five-day confirmation stage with nine contenders going forward, including the Cheltenham Gold Cup runner-up A Plus Tard who is set to head over from Ireland for the Henry de Bromhead team. However, Twiston-Davies feels that his charge had every chance of creating history.
He said: “Bristol De Mai is in great form and I couldn’t be happier with him really.
“He’s easy to get fit, that’s the beauty of it, and we’re all primed and ready to go. There was one year where he was second (to Lostinstranslation in 2019) and that year we really struggled with lameness problems and he didn’t quite get there one hundred percent.
“The race looks as hot as ever really, but the one thing he always has in his favour is that he’s so easy to get fit and I wonder whether they all will be as fit as he is – hopefully not. It’s great to see an Irish challenger too, it’s great for the race and hopefully we can beat everyone.”
It is rare to see a horse with such a fine record at Haydock Park and when asked about the secret behind Bristol De Mai’s success, Twiston-Davies felt that the uncomplicated nature of the venue played to the strengths of the son of Saddler Maker – adding that the forecast Good to Soft ground posed no concerns.
He said: “The track suits him and he’s won this race on good ground before, so hopefully it won’t be a problem. We’re as happy as we’ve ever been with him fitness wise. It’s just a superb track, I love the track and it seems to suit our horses.
“He likes to be able to boss races and it’s a very uncomplicated track at Haydock Park. There are two long straights and easy bends, so he can just get out there and do his stuff. A flat track where he can really boss things tends to suit him.
“He’s really special to us and we were lucky to have both him and The New One going great guns at the same time. They were really special to the yard and he has been exceptional. He hasn’t quite won the Gold Cup I always wanted but he was third once and he’s doing okay.
“It would be just great to equal Kauto Star. He would be remembered forever and who knows, there may even be a race named after him!”
Daryl Jacob is the retained rider to Bristol De Mai’s owners Simon Munir and Isaac Souede and is once again set to take the mount, having partnered Bristol De Mai in all of his starts bar one since 2014.
The trainer added: “Daryl knows the horse like the back of his hand and they love each other.”
The going is currently Good to Soft on the chase course at Haydock Park and Clerk of the Course Kirkland Tellwright does not expect it to change between now and the weekend.
He said: “We’ve just gone Good to Soft, Good in places on the hurdle track, while the chase track is Good to Soft. We had four millimetres of rain over the weekend and I think we’re not going to get much now by the way of rain or in terms of drying – but we’re in a really good place.
“It looks a great race this year but no Clerk will count his chickens before they have hatched! There’s no doubt that attracting these top Irish horses to the race is important and if it can be done it establishes the race in that elite band of races that draw in the horses from the key constituents.
“We would very much like an Irish runner every year, Kicking King ran in the very first renewal of this and then Beef Or Salmon ran and we’ve had a few quite years since without an Irish horse so one would be very welcome.”
Betfair Spokesman, Barry Orr, commented today: “It’s shaping up to be a real cracker and punters are backing A Plus Tard to give Ireland a first victory in the race and thereby deny Bristol De Mai a record equalling fourth win in the race.
“The Henry de Bromhead runner was 5-2 when we first offered the race but is a hard 13/8 chance now following sustained support.
“It looks like being unseasonably good ground but that shouldn’t inconvenience most of the field and don’t forget that Bristol De Mai won his second Betfair Chase on Good ground in 2018.
“Of the remainder, Waiting Patiently is popular and trading at 8-1 having been 16-1, and Next Destination is steady at 5-1 in a vintage renewal.”
The Betfair Chase – Betfair odds: 13-8 A Plus Tard, 3-1 Bristol de Mai, 5-1 Next Destination, 11-2 Royale Pagaille, 8-1 Waiting Patiently, 10-1 Imperial Aura, 14-1 Native River, 20-1 Clondaw Castle, 33-1 Chatham Street Lad
EW 1/5 odds 3 Places