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Bristol De Mai records famous hat-trick in Betfair Chase

Bristol De Mai lifted a third Betfair Chase with a gutsy performance in testing conditions at Haydock.

Nigel Twiston-Davies’ popular grey thrives at the Merseyside circuit and had won this Grade One contest in 2017 and 2018, before seeing his hat-trick bid derailed by Lostinstranslation last year.

Bristol De Mai firmly had his revenge on that rival this time, however, as he produced an impressive round of jumping in the hands of Daryl Jacob.

Prominent throughout, Bristol De Mai was in control turning for home as both Clan Des Obeaux and 7-4 favourite Lostintranslation lined up to challenge.

The latter dropped away tamely, leaving Clan Des Obeaux to test Bristol De Mai – but the nine-year-old had plenty in reserve and after clearing the last, he galloped all the way to the line to score by two lengths.

Following his previous Betfair Chase victories, Bristol De Mai went on to tackle the King George VI Chase at Kempton without success, but Anthony Bromley, racing manager for owners Simon Munir and Isaac Souede, has a different Boxing Day option in mind this term.

He said: “We specifically didn’t enter him in the King George, so we might have to think what to do next. But we might have to run in a handicap – because what else can you do?

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“There’s the Cotswold Chase, but that’s not until the end of January – it’s a long time waiting until then, so the Rowland Meyrick at Wetherby, something like that.

“It’s a shame there hasn’t been a crowd here today. Merseyside really takes to this horse.”

Bristol De Mai was springheeled in the Betfair Chase
Bristol De Mai was springheeled in the Betfair Chase (Mike Egerton/PA)

Jacob said: “He’s a real credit to the whole team.

“It was great – I was looking at the rain (forecast) all week up at Haydock. The heavens opened up a little bit before the first race, and I texted Simon and Isaac to say ‘I’ve never been so happy to ride in the rain’.

“It was ideal to have Bellshill up there. Obviously, getting a little bit older he’s getting a little bit cute, so I needed him up there at times to bring me along again.

“I think this is just the ideal track for him really – flat, left-handed, and he’s always at his best on those.”

Jacob pointed towards a certain race in April as being ideal for Bristol De Mai.

He said: “I’d love to see him in the Grand National.

“His jumping is very good – he’s brave when you need him to be, but as you could see down the back straight there, he was good and clever to pop them. I’d love to have one crack at him – he’s nine now, rising 10, so I suppose if there’s a year that’s going to be his it’s going to be this year.”

Paul Nicholls felt the ground had scuppered Clan Des Obeaux, with his charge having had a hard race ahead of his planned King George defence next month.

Clan Des Obeaux has a King George defence on his agenda
Clan Des Obeaux has a King George defence on his agenda (Steven Paston/PA)

He said: “The rain today didn’t help him at all. On that heavy ground, he didn’t truly get that three-two. Sam (Twiston-Davies) gave him a brilliant ride, but he was beaten by a mud lark and a real true stayer.

“I’m just thinking all the way what might have happened on better ground. He just could have done without all that rain as the ground has gone very heavy. The rain has beat him, but he has run a blinding race. It was an encouraging run for Kempton.

“Cyrname and him have had a role reversal. If you think Cyrname had a really hard race a year ago on this day and Clan has had a real hard race this time.

“He is a tough horse and I’d like to think he will be all right, but he knows he has had a race today. I’m thrilled though and it was a good run.”

Lostintranslation (right) beat Bristol De Mai last year, but disappointed in his defence
Lostintranslation (right) beat Bristol De Mai last year, but disappointed in his defence (Anthony Devlin/PA)

Connections of the Colin Tizzard-trained Lostintranslation also pointed to the ground taking its toll.

Assistant trainer Joe Tizzard said: “He never travelled on that ground. Robbie (Power) said after he jumped the first, he could feel he was hating it.

“Robbie has always said he’s a better horse on better ground and he finished last here in a novice hurdle one day. He did well to get round as he wants a bit more bounce in the ground.”

Lostintranslation out to retain Betfair title

Colin Tizzard is confident Lostintranslation will put up a staunch defence of his crown in the Betfair Chase at Haydock.

The eight-year-old denied the Nigel Twiston-Davies-trained Bristol De Mai a third successive victory in Saturday’s Merseyside showpiece when triumphing 12 months ago.

Lostintranslation badly fluffed his lines when well fancied for the King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day, but bounced back to finish a close-up third in the Cheltenham Gold Cup and renews rivalry with Bristol De Mai this weekend.

Tizzard said: “Lostintranslation is in great form. He is of course the defending champion, and we are looking forward to going back and hopefully winning the race again.”

The Flemensfirth gelding warmed up for last year’s victory with a pipe-opener at Carlisle – and while this time he has been off the track since the blue riband eight months ago, Tizzard is unconcerned.

He added: “He went for an away day, and we were really happy with the way he galloped. He also schooled last Wednesday morning, and I was delighted with what I saw.

“I really couldn’t be happier with him at home. That racecourse gallop will have done him the world of good, and the Betfair Chase can’t come soon enough.”

Bristol De Mai was only ninth in the Gold Cup on his latest appearance, but his regular partner Daryl Jacob expects him to make more of a race of it back at his beloved Haydock – where has won four of his five starts.

Bristol De Mai is bidding for a third Betfair Chase success
Bristol De Mai is bidding for a third Betfair Chase success (Clint Hughes/PA)
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Jacob said: “I can’t wait to ride him. He’s been a wonderful horse for us, and this is another big day for him.

“He seems in really good form at home. I schooled him last week, and it’s all systems go.

“On ratings it’s going to be difficult to beat Lostintranslation and Clan Des Obeaux. But if they get a bit of rain it will suit me, and I’m very excited about riding him – I think he’s going there with a great chance again.”

Clan Des Obeaux was fourth behind Bristol De Mai in the 2018 Betfair Chase before going on to seal the first of his two victories in the King George VI Chase at Kempton.

The Boxing Day highlight is again top of the eight-year-old’s agenda, but trainer Paul Nicholls is confident he can first make his presence felt this weekend.

He said: “He didn’t run at Haydock last year because he went to Down Royal, but he ran in it two years ago. It was his first time we put him into Grade One company, and he probably wasn’t fully wound up – this time he will be ready.

“He’s a big, strong horse who gallops and stays. His best form probably isn’t left-handed, but he has won at Haydock and loves the track as it is flatter than Cheltenham.

“He is just a proper horse who is probably at his peak now. I can’t explain it, but he just looks like a different horse (this season) – he is more athletic and stronger, and his work has been very good.

“He has schooled nicely and done lots of work. We’ve got him in really good shape this time because there is no point going into a race like this thinking he will need the run – there will be no excuses fitness-wise, as far as I can tell.”

Kauto Star was virtually unstoppable at Haydock
Kauto Star was virtually unstoppable at Haydock (Nigel French/PA)

Victory for Clan Des Obeaux would be a seventh in the race for Nicholls, who struck four times with the mighty Kauto Star and twice with Silviniaco Conti.

He said: “The Betfair Chase has been fantastic, especially with all the memories of Kauto Star.

“In particular, when Kauto Star won for the fourth time it was an amazing day. We felt incredibly lucky – and then along came Silviniaco Conti, who went on to win two Betfair Chases.

“It has been a very good race for us and is a race we really like.”

Bellshill is a multiple Grade One winner
Bellshill is a multiple Grade One winner (Brian Lawless/PA)

Bellshill landed the Punchestown Gold Cup and the Irish Gold Cup at Leopardstown when trained by Willie Mullins, but lost his form last season and would be a surprise winner on his stable debut for Berwickshire-based Sandy Thomson at the age of 10.

“Bellshill is in fine form, and we are looking forward to running,” said Thomson.

“He has been in great form since he came to me and enjoyed a racecourse gallop at Carlisle recently.

“We were delighted with that, and he would not be going to Haydock unless we thought he was going to do himself justice.”

The quintet is completed by Warren Greatrex’s outsider Keeper Hill, who is only runner with the benefit of a recent outing, having finished fourth in the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby three weeks ago.

Lostintranslation and Bristol De Mai set for Betfair rematch

Lostintranslation and Bristol De Mai remain on course for a Haydock rematch after all five horses confirmed for Saturday’s Betfair Chase stood their ground at the declaration stage.

Colin Tizzard’s Lostintranslation denied the Nigel Twiston-Davies-trained Bristol De Mai a hat-trick in a thrilling renewal of the Grade One contest 12 months ago – and is the narrow favourite to repeat the feat on his first start since finishing third in the Cheltenham Gold Cup in March.

Bristol De Mai could finish only ninth in the blue riband eight months ago, but can be expected to make more of a race of it on his return to Merseyside, where he has won four of his five starts.

Clan Des Obeaux was fourth behind Bristol De Mai in the 2018 Betfair Chase before going on to seal the first of two victories in the King George VI Chase at Kempton.

The Boxing Day highlight is again top of the eight-year-old’s agenda, although trainer Paul Nicholls has been making bullish noises about his chances on Saturday.

Clan Des Obeaux is bidding to add to the Ditcheat handler’s haul of six Betfair Chase wins – four of those provided by the magnificent Kauto Star.

Clan Des Obeaux represents Paul Nicholls
Clan Des Obeaux represents Paul Nicholls (Steven Paston/PA)

Bellshill landed the Punchestown Gold Cup and the Irish Gold Cup at Leopardstown when trained by Willie Mullins.

However, the son of King’s Theatre lost his form last season and would be a surprise winner on his debut for Berwickshire-based Sandy Thomson at the age of 10.

The quintet is completed by Warren Greatrex’s outsider Keeper Hill, who does at least have the benefit of a recent outing, having finished fourth behind Clan Des Obeaux’s esteemed stable companion Cyrname in the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby three weeks ago.

Nicholls confident in Clan stamina ahead of Betfair bid

Paul Nicholls is confident Clan Des Obeaux will have no problem getting the trip when he attempts to give the trainer a seventh Betfair Chase success at Haydock.

The eight-year-old will make his seasonal return in the Grade One prize, in which he finished fourth in two years ago, ahead of attempting to defend his Ladbrokes King George VI Chase crown at Kempton on Boxing Day.

Although Clan Des Obeaux is yet to win beyond three miles, the 11-times champion trainer expects him to have enough stamina to see out the extra furlong and a half on Merseyside.

Nicholls said: “He travels well and you could put him anywhere. You would want to reserve a little bit of stamina as it is three miles, one and a half furlongs.

“He has not won over that trip before, but I don’t think it is a problem – you just ride him accordingly and slot him in anywhere.

“Sam (Twiston-Davies) and Harry (Cobden) both said if the King George was three miles, one and a half last year, he would have still won, so I don’t think the trip is an issue.”

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With stable jockey Cobden set to go to Ascot at the weekend, Clan Des Obeaux will be reunited with Twiston-Davies for the first time since the pair won last year’s King George VI Chase.

Nicholls added: “Sam Twiston-Davies came in to ride him this morning as he will ride him on Saturday, as Harry is going to Ascot and if Cyrname gets to Kempton, Harry will ride him.

“He jumped very well this morning. He was very fresh and I was very happy with him.

“Sam won the King George on him last year and it’s easier for him to ride him Saturday, so it works out well like that.”

Nicholls had considered giving Clan Des Obeaux an alternative entry in the Grade Two Chanelle Pharma 1965 Chase at Ascot on Saturday, but with the ground at Haydock not set to be testing, all roads will lead there.

Nicholls said: “If they had forecast torrents of rain at the end of the week and you ended up with Haydock being very heavy, I was thinking of putting him in at Ascot to cover my options.

“If the going at Haydock is as it is now, he will definitely run there. The forecast looks encouraging and there is no cold weather, so it’s all systems go.”

Lostintranslation is the rival trainer Paul Nicholls fears the most (Anthony Devlin/PA Images)
Lostintranslation is the rival trainer Paul Nicholls fears the most (Anthony Devlin/PA Images)

Assessing the potential opposition, Nicholls believes last year’s winner, and Gold Cup third, Lostintranslation represents the biggest danger to stopping Clan Des Obeaux from adding a third Grade One victory to his CV.

He added: “Lostintranslation looks to be the main one. The Tizzards are running into some form now.

“Though he was disappointing in the King George he won this race very nicely last year and he would probably be the one to beat.

Bristol De Mai is a dual Betfair Chase winner
Bristol De Mai is a dual Betfair Chase winner (Clint Hughes/PA)

“Bristol De Mai has been a fantastic horse over the years and we’ve had some real old battles, but he isn’t getting any younger, although he always runs very well at that track. If he came back to his very best, he is always a danger.

“We’ve set out to try to win this race and not go there as prep to Kempton. He has got a big chance at the weekend.”

Bellshill and Keeper Hill complete the five entries for the race.

Lostintranslation and Bristol De Mai set to meet again

Lostintranslation and Bristol De Mai are set to meet again in the Betfair Chase at Haydock – for which only a maximum field of five is possible.

There were 10 entries initially, with three taken out before Monday’s confirmations, and Henry de Bromhead’s A Plus Tard and Nicky Henderson’s Santini will also miss Saturday’s contest.

Colin Tizzard’s Lostintranslation got the better of Bristol De Mai 12 months ago in what turned into a terrific duel in the Haydock straight.

It was a rare reversal at Haydock for Bristol De Mai, who had won the two previous renewals for Nigel Twiston-Davies.

The third top-class contender is Paul Nicholls’ Clan Des Obeaux, a dual winner of the King George VI Chase at Kempton.

Having failed to see out the Gold Cup trip in March, Boxing Day is once more his main objective this season.

The Sandy Thomson-trained Bellshill, a Grade One winner back in his days with Willie Mullins, and Warren Greatrex’s Keeper Hill complete the list.

The sponsors make last year’s winner their 5-4 favourite.

“It’s shaping up to be a cracking 16th renewal of the iconic race,” said Betfair’s Barry Orr.

“Lostintranslation and Bristol De Mai couldn’t be separated in the market last year – but this time around the 2019 winner is clear favourite at 5-4, while the two-time winner Bristol De Mai is 7-4.

“Dual King George winner Clan Des Obeaux is sure to have plenty of backers – with his trainer Paul Nicholls sounding very positive about his chances – and he looks a bit of value at 3-1.”

Lostintranslation primed for Betfair Chase defence

Connections of Lostintranslation expect him to be firing on all cylinders as he tries to defend his Betfair Chase crown on his seasonal return at Haydock.

The eight-year-old will have his first start since finishing third in the Cheltenham Gold Cup as he bids to give trainer Colin Tizzard a fifth victory in the Grade One prize on November 21.

Lostintranslation had the benefit of a prep run before his Betfair Chase win last year, but the Tizzard team are confident he can still achieve the same result without a warm-up spin.

Joe Tizzard, son and assistant, said: “Lostintranslation is exactly where we want him to be. He has had little away day and a racecourse gallop, and we are happy going there first time out.

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“Because he could run in an intermediate chase last year at Carlisle, we thought that was the perfect stepping stone for him.

“This year we knew all the way through the Betfair would be his first run, so we have him fit enough to go there and do himself justice at Haydock, because it is a big pot.

“We know he operates well around there, so it was always going to be the obvious starting point for him.”

Robbie Power is looking forward to getting back on board Lostintranslation (Anthony Devlin/PA Images)
Robbie Power is looking forward to getting back on board Lostintranslation (Anthony Devlin/PA)

Tizzard reports jockey Robbie Power to be equally as happy with Lostintranslation going into his first assignment of the season, having partnered him in both his racecourse gallop and a recent schooling session.

He added: “Robbie Power rode him in his gallop, and he schooled him last Wednesday and he will probably school him again tomorrow morning.

“Robbie can’t stop smiling when he gets off him, so that tells you plenty. He is very excited and he can’t wait to get back on board him.

“He is really pleased with where he is, and he is ticking all the right boxes.”

With Lostintranslation finding only Al Boum Photo and Santini too strong in last season’s Gold Cup, Tizzard believes a repeat of that display can see him mount another serious challenge in March.

Tizzard added: “He travelled well in the Gold Cup last year and jumped the last upsides them, before just getting beat.

“He will be much better for another year on his back, and if he runs like that again he will not be too far away.”