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Bristol De Mai none the worse for Betfair Chase exertions

Nigel Twiston-Davies feels three-time Betfair Chase winner Bristol De Mai lost nothing in defeat at the hands of the impressive A Plus Tard at Haydock on Saturday.

Going into the race, the popular grey had won five of his six races at the Merseyside track in a stellar career, and was bidding to emulate Kauto Star’s four victories in the Grade One event.

However, in a strong renewal, the 10-year-old was pulled up before two out, with Daryl Jacob looking after the stable star.

Twiston-Davies would like to see more ease in the ground at this stage of his career. He said: “He’s fine. He is obviously not as fast as he was, in a quality race and on that ground. So, he’ll be all right.

“It was a very strong race and he ran well for a way, and you can’t fault him for what he has achieved. Daryl looked after him and that was good to see.

“I don’t know where we will go next – it is back to the drawing board.

“He obviously does need softer ground these days, but he is fit and well this morning.”

History beckons for Bristol De Mai at Haydock

Nigel Twiston-Davies has backed the “exceptional” Bristol De Mai to emulate Kauto Star by securing a record-equalling fourth victory in Saturday’s Betfair Chase.

It is 10 years since Kauto Star brought the house down at Haydock for the fourth and final time, a feat which means the Paul Nicholls-trained superstar is immortalised in bronze on Merseyside.

Twiston-Davies is hoping his long-time stable star can earn similar recognition this weekend by adding to his previous triumphs in 2017, 2018 and 2020.

He said: “Bristol De Mai is really special to us – he has been exceptional.

“We were lucky to have both him and The New One going great guns at the same time.

“Bristol hasn’t quite won the Gold Cup I always wanted, but he was third once and he’s doing OK.

“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!”

The flying grey has won five of his six starts at Haydock overall, his only defeat coming in this race when runner-up to Lostintranslation two years ago.

Bristol De Mai has been off the track since being pulled up in the Grand National in April and is not getting any younger at the age of 10, but Twiston-Davies is confident he is at the top of his game.

“He’s easy to get fit, that’s the beauty of it, and we’re all primed and ready to go,” said the Naunton-based trainer.

“There was one year where he was second and that year we really struggled with lameness problems and he didn’t quite get there 100 percent.

“We’re as happy as we’ve ever been with him fitness-wise.

“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.”

Nigel Twiston-Davies
Nigel Twiston-Davies (Mike Egerton/PA)

Conditions at Haydock will not be as testing as is usually the case at this time of year, but Twiston-Davies is unconcerned.

He said: “The track suits him and he’s won this race on good ground before (in 2018), so hopefully it won’t be a problem.

“It’s just a superb track, I love the track and it seems to suit our horses.

“Bristol likes to be able to boss races and there are two long straights and easy bends, so he can just get out there and do his stuff.”

Waiting Patiently has not managed to get his head in front since beating Cue Card at in the 2018 Ascot Chase, but has won at Haydock before and new trainer Christian Williams is excited about his chances.

Waiting Patiently (right) beating Cue Card at Ascot
Waiting Patiently (right) beating Cue Card at Ascot (Julian Herbert/PA)

“He’s very classy and we just pray we can run him on Saturday. As long as the ground doesn’t get any quicker, I think we’ll take our chance,” said the Welsh handler.

“We’re confident. We’ve only had him a few months, but we don’t think we can get him any better.

“It’s a sharp track, flat track and he’s got form round there, so I think he’s got plenty in his favour.”

Another horse who has already shown an affinity for the track is the Venetia Williams-trained Royale Pagaille, who was a brilliant winner of the Peter Marsh Chase over the course and distance in January.

He finished lame when a well-beaten sixth in the Gold Cup in the spring, but is reported to be in good form ahead of his return by jockey Charlie Deutsch.

He said: “He has proven he can win a good race off top-weight in a good handicap and we know he likes the track, which is a bonus.

“He picked up a foot injury in the Gold Cup. His jumping was not as good as it normally is and whether that was down to the foot I don’t know. I’m not looking into that result too much as hopefully he is still improving.

“I’ve done a bit of schooling on him at home and I’ve done a few pieces of work on him and all seems great at the moment.”

Imperial Aura looked every inch a top-class chaser in the making after winning his first two starts of last season, but unseated his rider at Kempton in January and was pulled up at Cheltenham in March.

Imperial Aura returns with something to prove
Imperial Aura returns with something to prove (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Trainer Kim Bailey is hoping a subsequent wind operation will help him bounce back, while he is keen to see how he fares beyond three miles.

He said: “He has always been a horse that I felt would be better over a longer trip, though he is quite a quick horse. Going back up to three miles shouldn’t be a problem.

“It is a flat track at Haydock and I think the race will suit him.

“He has had a breathing operation over the summer and he seems in a really good place. I think you just have to walk away from the second half of last season.

“Is he good enough? God only knows, but at the end of it he is a very talented individual and he has got serious ability.”

Tom George expects Clondaw Castle to improve from his third-placed finish in the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby, saying: “The ground at Wetherby ended up being too soft. That track on that ground first time out just found him out as it stretched his stamina.

“The positive is that Haydock is a much sharper track and the ground looks like being better. Provided it doesn’t rain, you should see a different horse.

“I’m not a betting man, but I think he can put it up against quite a few of them if the ground stays as it is.”

The rank outsider is Chatham Street Lad, who needs to raise his game significantly judged on an uninspiring start to his season in the Munster National at Limerick.

Chatham Street Lad at Cheltenham
Chatham Street Lad at Cheltenham (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

“He looks great in himself and by the sound of things the ground will be safe, which is the main thing,” said trainer Mick Winters.

“We hope he blew up and then ran on in the race in Limerick and he came out of it well.

“I suppose you’d be a small bit worried you might be out of your depth in a race like this. It’s a big ask, but if he can hunt around and pick up the pieces and comes home safely that’ll be great.”

Jacob hoping to emulate King Kauto with ‘people’s favourite’ Bristol De Mai

Daryl Jacob admits it would be a remarkable feat if Bristol De Mai could register a record-equalling fourth win in the Betfair Chase at Haydock on Saturday.

The bold, front-running grey is on the cusp of matching Kauto Star’s feat in the Grade One over three miles one and a half furlongs thanks to a succession of brilliant performances.

He has made the Merseyside venue his own in recent years, beginning with a 57-length beating of another three-time scorer, Cue Card, in 2017.

In 2018, he conquered that year’s Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Native River by five lengths. Though he went down, albeit gallantly, by a length and a half to Lostintranslation in 2019, he regained his crown by two lengths at the expense of dual King George VI Chase victor Clan Des Obeaux.

Jacob has ridden Bristol De Mai in all but one of his 33 races since the grey moved to the Nigel Twiston-Davies stable from Guillaume Macaire in France as a young horse in 2014.

“Kauto Star was one of the all-time greats. He won four Betfair Chases. If this lad can emulate him and do the job he’s done it would be some achievement,” said Jacob.

“I’m very much looking forward to it. He’s been a wonderful servant to myself, (owners) Simon (Munir) and Isaaac (Souede). He’s won Grade Ones consistently most years and he’s a people’s favourite.

“He’s a Haydock specialist and it’s a home match to him. It’s as though he lives up there.”

Kauto Star admires the statue at Haydock marking his four wins in the Betfair Chase
Kauto Star admires the statue at Haydock marking his four wins in the Betfair Chase (John Giles/PA)

Unsurprisingly, Jacob finds him a joy to ride and does not believe ground conditions will play against the 10-year-old.

“He’s a very straightforward type of horse. He goes his gallop and jumps the way he does. I know him very well. He’s just a lovely horse to ride,” he said.

“He’s a wonderful, scopey type of horse – exactly what you need for a good three-mile chaser.

“He’s won plenty of good races on good to soft ground in the past. Even when he beat Native River and Might Bite (in the 2018 renewal) it was good to soft that day. It was a monumental win.

“Good to soft ground doesn’t bother him. His favourite ground is heavy ground, but good to soft is not a problem.”

However, Jacob fears A Plus Tard could be a major stumbling block between Bristol De Mai and that landmark triumph.

“It’s a very good race. It’s probably one of the best races we’ve had up there for a few years. A Plus Tard is going to be hard to beat,” he went on.

“He’s a Cheltenham Festival winner (Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase) over two-miles-five and he’s a Gold Cup second. He loves good to soft ground. He’s going to be very difficult to beat. There are so many conditions in his favour for Saturday.

Daryl Jacob rates A Plus Tard a big threat to Bristol De Mai in the Betfair Chase
Daryl Jacob rates A Plus Tard a big threat to Bristol De Mai in the Betfair Chase (Simon Cooper/PA)

“Obviously, Waiting Patiently this is his sort of track and he finished second in the King George last year. They are going to be two difficult horses to beat.

“Next Destination was touted as a very good horse. He’s got to step up on what he’s done so far, but Paul Nicholls is an exceptional trainer – a master of his craft – and you wouldn’t bet your last dollar he wouldn’t perform and run a good race.”

:: Daryl Jacob will ride Bristol De Mai in the Betfair Chase at Haydock on Saturday. For more information visit greatbritishracing.com

Bristol De Mai heads Betfair Chase field

Bristol De Mai faces seven rivals in his quest to earn a record-equalling fourth victory in the Betfair Chase at Haydock on Saturday.

The Nigel Twiston-Davies-trained grey has taken the Grade One prize three times – in 2017, 2018 and 2020 – and bids to equal the mighty Kauto Star, who was successful in 2006, 2007, 2009 and 2011.

There is strong opposition, including Henry de Bromhead’s A Plus Tard, who makes his first appearance since filling the runner-up spot behind stablemate Minella Indo in last season’s Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Chatham Street Lad, trained by Mick Winters, is the other Irish-trained contender.

Minella Indo and A Plus Tard (right) after last season's Cheltenham Gold Cup
Minella Indo and A Plus Tard (right) after last season’s Cheltenham Gold Cup (David Davies/Jockey Club)

Paul Nicholls, who has won the Betfair Chase on a record six occasions, saddles second-season novice Next Destination.

Waiting Patiently has not won since beating Cue Card in the 2018 Ascot Chase, but Christian Williams has been positive about his well-being ahead of his first start for the yard.

The Venetia Williams-trained Royale Pagaille won the Peter Marsh Chase by 16 lengths over the course and distance last season and returns to Merseyside this weekend.

The field is completed by Clondaw Castle (Tom George) and Imperial Aura (Kim Bailey), with Native River the only withdrawal at the 48-hour final declaration stage.

Betfair Chase Trends

Staged at Haydock Park racecourse the Betfair Chase Registered as the Lancashire Chase) is a Grade One race and is run over a slightly longer trip (3m1f). The contest is a fairly new one, being first run in 2005 and takes place in November each season.

Trainer Paul Nicholls has made the race his own, winning the decent prize 6 times in the last 13 years, including four times with Kauto Star, while the popular grey Bristol De Mai has landed the pot three times in the last four years and giving his trainer – Nigel Twiston-Davies – his fourth success in the contest. The Tizzard yard is another to have on your radar - they’ve won four of the last 8.

We are still waiting, however, for the first Irish-trained winner of the race.

Here at Geegeez, we are on hand with all the key stats ahead of the 2021 renewal – this year run on Saturday November 20th 2021.

 

Recent Betfair Chase Winners

2020 - BRISTOL DE MAI (9/4)
2019 - LOSTINTRANSLATION (5/4 fav)
2018 – BRISTOL DE MAI (13/2)
2017 – BRISTOL DE MAI (11/10 fav)
2016 – CUE CARD (15/8 fav)
2015 – CUE CARD (7/4)
2014 - SILVINIACO CONTI (10/3)
2013 – CUE CARD (9/1)
2012 – SILVINIACO CONTI (7/4)
2011 – KAUTO STAR (6/1)
2010 – IMPERIAL COMMANDER (10/11 fav)
2009 – KAUTO STAR (4/6 fav)
2008 – SNOOPY LOOPY (33/1)
2007 – KAUTO STAR (4/5 fav)
2006 – KAUTO STAR (11/10 fav)
2005 – KINGSCLIFF (8/1)

Key Betfair Chase Betting Trends

16 Previous runnings
14/16 - Won over at least 3m (fences) previously
13/16 – Won by and Irish (4) or French (9) bred horse
13/16 - Won a Grade One chase previously
12/16 - Raced within the last 4 weeks
12/16 - Placed in the top three in their last race
12/16 - Raced at Haydock previously
11/16 - Officially rating of 168 or higher
10/16 – Favourites placed
9/16 – Aged 8 or older
9/16 - Winning distance - 2 ½ lengths or less
8/16 – Won by a previous winner of the race
7/16 – Winning favourites
7/16 - Raced at Wetherby in the Charlie Hall last time out
6/16 – Won their latest race
4/16 - Raced at Aintree last time out
The average winning price in the last 16 runnings is 5/1
No Irish-trained winner yet
8 of the last 9 winners aged 9 or younger
The Paul Nicholls yard has won the prize in 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2012 & 2014
The Nigel Twiston-Davies yard has won the prize in 2010, 2017, 2018 and 2020  
The Colin Tizzard yard has won the race in 2013, 2015, 2016 and 2019

 

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Bristol De Mai seeking to emulate Kauto Star as four-time Betfair winner

Nigel Twiston-Davies has Bristol De Mai perfectly tuned ahead of his bid for a fourth Betfair Chase at Haydock on Saturday.

The grey has been a dominant force in the race for the past four seasons, scoring back to back wins in 2017 and 2018 before retaining his title last year following a second-placed finish behind Lostintranslation in 2020.

Haydock is usually Twiston-Davies’ first port of call with the hugely-popular gelding, who has kicked off his campaign in the race for the past three years and will do so again having not been seen since his Grand National run in Aintree.

The trainer reports the horse to have summered well and to be at the peak of fitness ahead of his title defence at the weekend.

Bristol De Mai taking the Betfair Chase in 2020
Bristol De Mai taking the Betfair Chase in 2020 (Mike Egerton/PA)

“He was here in the summer and he’s been very happy,” he said.

“He’s in great form, I couldn’t be happier really.

“He’s easy to get fit, that’s the beauty of him and we’re all primed and ready to go. The one year we were second was the year we really struggled, he had lameness problems and he didn’t get there quite 100 per cent.”

There have been no such setbacks this time around and Twiston-Davies is hoping the 10-year-old’s fitness will prove valuable when he takes on what looks to be a particularly competitive line-up that includes Henry de Bromhead’s Cheltenham Gold Cup runner-up A Plus Tard.

“It looks as hot as ever, but the one thing he always has in his favour is that he’s an easy horse to get fit. Will they all be as fit as he is?” he said.

“It’s great for the race and great for all of us, let’s hope we can beat them.”

Bristol De Mai with long-term partner Daryl Jacob
Bristol De Mai with long-term partner Daryl Jacob (Clint Hughes/PA)

Bristol De Mai has a notably solid record at Haydock, with his 2019 defeat in the Betfair Chase his only loss at the track in six runs.

“He likes to be able to boss races and it’s a very uncomplicated track, there are two long straights and easy bends – he can just get out there and do his stuff,” Twiston-Davies explained.

“There’s no races for him at Newbury or places like that but I’m sure he’d be just as good there, he was good around Wetherby. A flat track where he can really boss them seems to suit him.”

Similarly well-suited to him is his jockey Daryl Jacob, who has ridden him in all but two of his 36 career starts, only handing the reins to Twiston-Davies’ son, Sam, on one occasion and to French rider Arnaud Duchene when Bristol De Mai won at Auteuil as a three-year-old.

“One of the only other people to have ridden him is Sam, Daryl knows him like the back of his hand and they love each other,” the trainer said of the partnership.

Daryl Jacob and Bristol De Mai after one of their Betfair Chase victories
Daryl Jacob and Bristol De Mai after one of their Betfair Chase victories (Clint Hughes/PA)

For all those connected to the horse the race is the source of many happy memories, with a record-equalling fourth success in the contest set to leave Bristol De Mai tied with the great Kauto Star, winner of the Betfair Chase in 2006, 2007, 2009 and 2011.

“It would just be great, he’ll be remembered forever and maybe there’d be a race named after him,” Twiston-Davies said of the prospect.

“He’s really, really special. We were lucky enough to have him and The New One both going at the same time.

“They were real standard-bearers for the yard and he has been exceptional, he hasn’t quite won the Gold Cup I always wanted but he was third in one.”

The trainer also recalled when he was first shown a glimpse of Bristol De Mai’s potential as a three-year-old in the Grade One Future Champions Finale Juvenile Hurdle at Chepstow.

“These are special memories, probably my most special memory was his very first run for us at Chepstow, he got deep ground in the three-year-old hurdle and then we really knew we had a very, very exceptional horse and he hasn’t let us down since,” he said.

“He’s a very easy horse to train, he’s keen in how he goes about his work, he loves his work. He lives in the field every day as well and he loves that.

“He is as he looks, he’s a big show off – a happy horse.”

As well as A Plus Tard, opposition to Bristol De Mai could include Imperial Aura (Kim Bailey), Waiting Patiently (Christian Williams), Royale Pagaille (Venetia Williams), Next Destination (Paul Nicholls), Clondaw Castle (Tom George), Native River (Colin Tizzard) and Chatham Street Lad (Mick Winters).

Big names on course for Betfair Chase showdown

Three-times winner Bristol De Mai and Cheltenham Gold Cup runner-up A Plus Tard are among 16 entries for this year’s Betfair Chase at Haydock on November 20.

Bristol De Mai has proved a very tough nut to crack in this contest since 2017 and is bidding to emulate Kauto Star who won the race four times.

His only defeat has come at the hands Lostintranslation in 2019, who has been entered again by Colin Tizzard.

Bristol De Mai’s last outing was in the Grand National, where he was pulled up with top-weight.

Henry de Bromhead has been targeting A Plus Tard at the Merseyside feature for a while given his preference for going left-handed.

Tizzard could also be represented by the veteran Native River while recent Carlisle scorer Fiddlerontheroof is another possible for the stable.

Nicky Henderson has a strong pair of possibles, both owned by JP McManus, in Champ and Chanty House.

Chantry House is due to run at Sandown on Sunday, but Champ has not been seen since pulling up in the Gold Cup after a fine run over two miles at Newbury.

“I think he put so much into jumping at Newbury he overdid it and by the time he got to Cheltenham he wouldn’t have jumped a hurdle that day,” Henderson told Sky Sports Racing.

“He’s had surgery done and we’re very happy with how it all feels and he’s moving great.

“The plan is to go to Haydock for the Betfair Chase, which has always been a complete disaster as far as I’m concerned – everything I’ve run in it has got beat and Bristol De Mai always wins it anyway!

“He has to go left-handed so he is a bit limited and we think the Betfair is where we’ll start.”

Imperial Aura has potential to reach the top this season
Imperial Aura has potential to reach the top this season (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Imperial Aura has been given the option by Kim Bailey and Paul Nicholls has entered Next Destination.

Other entries from Ireland include Chatham Street Lad and Escaria Ten, who was third in the National Hunt Chase.

Clondaw Castle, Lord Du Mesnil, Royale Pagaille, Sam Brown and Waiting Patiently complete the list.

A Plus Tard has been installed as 5-2 favourite by the sponsors, with Bristol De Mai next in at 7-2.

Bristol De Mai tops Grand National field – but Secret Reprieve set to miss out

Bristol De Mai heads a maximum field of 40 in the Randox Grand National – but the strongly-fancied Secret Reprieve is only second reserve and set to miss out as a result.

Trained by Evan Williams, Secret Reprieve won the Welsh National in December and has been kept fresh in the hope of a crack at the world’s greatest steeplechase on Saturday.

However, it had been touch and go whether he would make the cut or not and as only The Storyteller was not declared at the 48-hour stage, Secret Reprieve’s connections are resigned to their fate.

Secret Reprieve is only second reserve for the Randox Grand National
Secret Reprieve is only second reserve for the Randox Grand National (David Davies/PA)

Should there be any non-runners before 1pm on Friday, the reserve system will come into play – but Williams was philosophical about Secret Reprieve not making the top 40 and is already looking forward to next season with the lightly-raced seven-year-old.

“We’ve had a lot worse news regarding horses, we knew there was a chance that would happen so there’s no point worrying about things we can’t control,” the Llancarfan trainer told Sky Sports Racing.

“He’s safe and sound and that’s always the main thing. He’ll go home with Mr and Mrs Rucker (owners) now and we’ll think about next year.

“We took a punt about getting in the National and it’s not going to work out. That’s the way it is.

“The great thing about missing out on getting into the National is they dropped him 2lb for anywhere we want to go now next year. Every cloud has a silver lining.

“I’m certainly not worried. He’s a young horse, fingers crossed he’ll have his day again in the sun somewhere down the line.

“He’s gone and won a Welsh National. It was only his sixth start over fences. He’s had a mighty season. He can have a good field of grass now and we can look forward to next year with him.”

Cloth Cap is the red-hot favourite for the Grand National
Cloth Cap is the red-hot favourite for the Grand National (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Dan Skelton’s Blaklion was the beneficiary of of The Storyteller’s no-show and creeps in as number 40. The first reserve is John McConnell’s Some Neck, with Kauto Riko third reserve and Fagan the fourth and final one.

Ante-post favourite Cloth Cap will aim to give Trever Hemmings a record fourth win in the race following the successes of Hedgehunter, Ballabriggs and Many Clouds – and his trainer Jonjo O’Neill is chasing his second National, having won with Don’t Push It.

After their domination at Cheltenham, the Irish battalion bring a strong team in which Ted Walsh’s Any Second Now is well touted.

Rachael Blackmore enjoyed a dream Festival and aims to top an incredible year on Henry de Bromhead’s Minella Times. The Gold Cup-winning stable is also responsible for Chris’s Dream and Balko Des Flos.

Burrows Saint (left) will be ridden by Patrick Mullins
Burrows Saint (left) will be ridden by Patrick Mullins (PA)

Willie Mullins is without the services of Paul Townend, who suffered an injury at Fairyhouse earlier this week. He is replaced on Burrows Saint by Patrick Mullins.

Danny Mullins rides Acapella Bourgeois, and Brian Hayes is on Class Conti – with Sean O’Keeffe on Cabaret Queen.

Denis O’Regan comes in for the ride on Tony Martin’s Anibale Fly, who has run well in the race twice before and has also twice been placed in the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Leading amateur Jamie Codd rides Milan Native, with Sean Flanagan on Tout Est Permis.

Twiston-Davies anticipating bold Aintree show from Bristol De Mai

Casting his gaze over the noble head of Bristol De Mai at Grange Farm Stables, Nigel Twiston-Davies exuded cautious optimism over the grey’s Randox Grand National prospects in what will be the first edition of the race staged behind closed doors.

The Covid-19 pandemic might have put paid to what would have been the top weight’s first attempt at the National 12 months ago, but Twiston-Davies thanks his lucky stars that owing to a huge combined effort within the racing industry, the sport has continued without issue through the winter lockdown.

A smattering of owners that are now allowed to attend Aintree will add a small voice to the occasion, but as far as the participants are concerned – be they trainer, horse or jockey – everything will pan out like any other day’s racing, with a tension you could cut with a knife as the runners assemble in front of the stands.

Twiston-Davies identified the class element that Bristol De Mai will bring to the National table very soon after he arrived at Guiting Power from France as an exciting juvenile hurdler.

He recalls: “He was sent to us by the owners as a three-year-old and we thought he was decent when he won the Finale Juvenile Hurdle at Chepstow. He went on to finish third at Aintree and went straight over fences as a four-year-old.

“I was going to run him in last year’s National and while that never happened, he’s been trained specifically for the race this time. We decided to give the Gold Cup a miss, and take him fresh to Aintree.

“He’s a very good jumper and Daryl (Jacob) was delighted with the way he schooled over a couple of dressed up fences here on Thursday. He had two goes and greatly enjoyed himself.”

Bristol De Mai and Nigel Twiston-Davies
Bristol De Mai and Nigel Twiston-Davies (Neil Morrice/PA)

It is interesting that each of the people most closely connected with the gelding on the training side of the equation are united in their view that he was in fact ‘made’ for the rigours the old course, with the Becher’s Brook drop, the towering presence of The Chair and generally far stiffer obstacles.

The design of the obstacles has been adjusted over the years, with every fence redressed with a plastic easy-fix inner torso that still catches out a number of horses, but for the overall good of the sport makes the fences safer.

Such a scenario did not greet Earth Summit and Bindaree for their Aintree triumphs of 1998 and 2002.

Bindaree on his way to National glory for Nigel Twiston-Davies
Bindaree on his way to National glory for Nigel Twiston-Davies (Rui Vieira/PA)

Twiston-Davies said: “The course has changed a lot over the years, which is a shame in a sense, as I feel the old National fences would have played to Bristol’s strengths. Since they redid the insides of the fences, it’s made the jumping side of the equation easier.

“He pleased me in each of his races this season. To win a third Betfair Chase like that was very special, and I thought he did nothing wrong at Sandown (when chasing home Native River) in the Cotswold Chase.

“I feel very lucky to have won two Nationals. Earth Summit surprised me a little, as I thought he might not be brave enough for it, but it was quite the reverse as it was his ground and it didn’t worry him one little bit.

Earth Summit won the National in 1998
Earth Summit won the National in 1998 (PA)

“When Bindaree won I was contemplating my future as a trainer, and I suppose he helped me U-turn my decision. He was a horse with a lot of class, he took to it and in truth didn’t surprise me.

“We could have had a third success with Beau, who also had a touch of class and had won a Whitbread. He was travelling beautifully, but nodded on landing at the first on the second circuit and it caused the rein to go over his head.

“Carl (Llewellyn) tried to keep the steering intact for three or four more fences, but in the end gravity took over. Carl fell off and then tried to catch him, as he could have remounted. There was still plenty of time for him to win the race.”

Praising the combined efforts of everyone that has assisted in running racing, the trainer added: “I think it’s great for the sport that racing has continued unabated through the third lockdown, with not a single upset, which is the main thing.

“We don’t need anyone rocking the boat and it’s superb the way they have kept the show on the road.

“It won’t be the same without the crowds, but it’s the National – there only is one and it would have been a disaster to miss two.”

Carl Llewellyn was a National winner on Party Politics in 1992
Carl Llewellyn was a National winner on Party Politics in 1992 (John Giles/PA)

Llewellyn is business partner to Twiston- Davies at Grange Farm and partnered Party Politics as well as Earth Summit to Aintree glory.

He said: “Over the relatively new easy-fix with spruce fences, horses don’t have to be as good jumpers as they were to get round.

“I think Bristol De Mai will be fine. He finished third in a Gold Cup so is classy, and as an individual he’s very athletic, tall and has great footwork. He has a hell of a lot of scope, respects his fences and has the ability to both stand off and shorten up.”

Bristol De Mai relaxing at home
Bristol De Mai relaxing at home (Neil Morrice/PA)

The trainer’s ‘right hand man’ Jim Old is a permanent feature on the gallops, and since retiring from the training ranks has managed the interests of a handful of inmates at the yard.

Old is in agreement with Twiston-Davies that in one sense Bristol De Mai is a horse out of time.

He explains: “I only ever had one runner in the National, and apart from that had one beaten a short head in the Topham, so you could say Aintree wasn’t really my bag. But if you could pick a horse that would have all the attributes required for that course, then it’s Bristol De Mai.

“Without any doubt he would have been a wonderful horse for the old National course. But that’s in the past and he will still love it round there.

“If it stayed dry, it wouldn’t be too much of a worry because he’s won on it at Haydock.”

Bristol De Mai has Cleeve and Cotswold options

Nigel Twiston-Davies has given Bristol De Mai entries in both the rescheduled Cotswold Chase and Cleeve Hurdle, because of uncertainties over the wintry weather this week.

Bristol De Mai is one of six possibles for the Cotswold at Sandown and one of 17 in the Cleeve at Wetherby – with both races switched to this Saturday, after Cheltenham’s Festival Trials card was abandoned last weekend.

Twiston-Davies is leaning towards the Cotswold but felt it wise to put him in the Cleeve as well during such a volatile spell of weather.

“Let’s see what the weather does. We’ve no idea yet,” said the Naunton trainer.

“We’d probably prefer to go for the Cotswold if it was on, but I’ll have to speak to the owners first, so I haven’t a clue at the moment.”

Santini is among six entries for the rescheduled Cotswold Chase at Sandown on Saturday
Santini is among six entries for the rescheduled Cotswold Chase at Sandown on Saturday (David Davies/PA)

The five other Cotswold entries are Lake View Lad, Native River, Saint Calvados, Santini and Yala Enki.

The Cotswold Chase is one of eight races on Sandown’s card, with officials still hoping to stage the meeting as scheduled after the hurdles course just passed an inspection on Tuesday.

However, it is still possible the hurdle races could be lost and replaced with more steeplechase contests.

Clerk of the course Andrew Cooper said: “It would be absolute borderline you could race here this afternoon – and we’re obliged, quite rightly, not to give up on it just yet.

“With an unsettled outlook with spells of rain – we’re expecting one Wednesday morning and showery thereafter – there will be another inspection at some point to decide where we go for Saturday.

“The absolute deadline to make it an all-chase card would be declarations morning on Thursday. If the weather intervenes significantly in the interim, that decision would be brought forward.

“We just felt, given the importance and value of the hurdles race on Saturday, it would be premature to give up on the hurdle races just yet.”

A final decision on the make-up of the fixture will be taken following an inspection at 8am on Thursday. The British Horseracing Authority has made a contingency to add two further chases to make an all-chase six-race card.

A favourable forecast over the next few days gives Wetherby clerk of the the course Jonjo Sanderson every hope the meeting there will go ahead.

Wetherby are optimistic of racing taking place on Saturday (
Wetherby are optimistic of racing taking place on Saturday (Mike Egerton/PA)

“We had a covering of snow overnight, but it turned to drizzle and is thawing away,” he said.

“The temperatures are supposed to rise to eight or nine degrees tomorrow, Thursday and Friday.

“We were absolutely fine on Monday and were back to a point where we were raceable after the waterlogging last week.

“All being well, the fact we’ve got three good days, plus Saturday, for this to drain through, we should be OK. The ground will be heavy all round, I should think.”

With Paisley Park an absentee, as expected, from the rescheduled Cleeve Hurdle, the Grade Two contest has a much more open look.

Lake View Lad could run at either Sandown or Wetherby
Lake View Lad could run at either Sandown or Wetherby (Richard Sellers/PA)

“Paisley Park would have put a few off at Cheltenham, and the fact Emma Lavelle has said she is not coming to Wetherby has opened the race up a bit more to make it a bit more attractive,” Sanderson added.

“We’re delighted to run the race, so it’s not lost. William Hill have stepped in and have added to their package. We’re grateful for their support of the race.”

Like Bristol De Mai, Nick Alexander’s Lake View Lad has an entry in the two races.

Among others in the Cleeve are Ballyoptic, Itchy Feet, Main Fact, On The Blind Side, Ramses De Teillee and Yorkhill.

Santini and Bristol De Mai face Cotswold Chase rematch

Last year’s one-two Santini and Bristol De Mai are among eight horses declared for Saturday’s Paddy Power “45 Sleeps To Cheltenham” Cotswold Chase.

Nicky Henderson’s Santini saw off the Nigel Twiston-Davies-trained Bristol De Mai by three and a half lengths in last year’s renewal of the Grade Two contest, before going on to finish a close second to Al Boum Photo in the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

He has failed to rediscover that level of form so far this season – most recently finishing fifth in the King George at Kempton – and Henderson has already voiced concerns about the prospect of ultra-testing conditions in the Cotswolds this weekend.

Henderson told Sky Sports Racing: “Our feeling, even at the beginning of the week, was if it was heavy ground we’d have to think again.

“It is a trial and it’s very important with him that he enjoys it.

“He loves work and loves jumping and loves racing, but I don’t want to take that away from him by giving him a very tough race in really heavy ground – I want to find a race that he’s actually going to enjoy.

“I’m not saying I want an easy race for him as there’s no such thing. The only alternative would be to wait for the Denman Chase at Newbury and we have Champ going there, but you can’t not run a horse just because you have another one in the race.

“You’ve got to go where is right for the horses and we are short of options”

With stable jockey Nico de Boinville heading to Doncaster to partner star novice chaser Shishkin and Jerry McGrath sidelined by injury, Aidan Coleman has been booked to partner Santini for the first time.

Bristol De Mai is a couple of pounds better off for the rematch and loves nothing more than a slog in the mud, as he proved when winning his third Betfair Chase at Haydock in November.

Colin Tizzard’s 2018 Gold Cup hero Native River returns to the Cotswolds for the first time since finishing fourth in the 2019 renewal of the blue riband, having missed the race last season through injury.

The 11-year-old proved he retains plenty of ability when a close-up third behind Nick Alexander’s Lake View Lad and Santini in the Many Clouds Chase at Aintree last month, although several fences were missed because of low sun.

Lake View Lad gets the opportunity to prove that triumph was no fluke under champion jockey Brian Hughes, while Harry Whittington saddles King George fourth Saint Calvados.

The Conditional (David Bridgwater), Yorkhill (Sandy Thomson) and Yala Enki (Paul Nicholls) are the other hopefuls.

Paisley Park is set to face five rivals when bidding for a third straight victory in the Paddy Power Cleeve Hurdle.

Emma Lavelle’s stable star suffered a well-documented heart problem when defending his crown in the Stayers’ Hurdle at Cheltenham last season, but has bounced back to finish second in the Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury and win the Long Walk at Ascot this term.

His biggest threat could be Olly Murphy’s Itchy Feet, who reverts to the smaller obstacles after displaying high-class form over fences.

David Pipe runs the prolific Main Fact, although he has plenty of ground to make up on Paisley Park on their Ascot meeting last month.

Pipe has a second string to his bow in Ramses De Teillee, with the teenage Unowhatimeanharry and Irish challenger Decor Irlandais completing the field.

Nassalam looks to have a good opportunity to regain the winning thread in the opening JCB Triumph Hurdle Trial.

Gary Moore’s dual Fontwell scorer was no match for Pipe’s Adagio in the Finale Juvenile Hurdle at Chepstow three weeks ago, but will be widely expected to account for his three rivals this weekend.

Aso heads a field of 11 runners for the Paddy Power Millionaire Trophy Handicap Chase, while Nicky Martin’s stable star Bear Ghylls puts his unbeaten record on the line against four opponents in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle.

Bristol De Mai set for break before Cotswold Chase

Bristol De Mai will not run again before the Cotswold Chase at the end of January after sealing his third Betfair Chase success.

Having claimed Betfair Chase glory in 2017 and 2018, the Nigel Twiston-Davies-trained grey found Colin Tizzard’s Lostintranslation a length and a half too strong when bidding for a hat-trick 12 months ago.

But with conditions more demanding on Merseyside this time around, Bristol De Mai emphatically reversed that form to become the second three-time winner after Tizzard’s former star Cue Card, and just one short of Kauto Star’s record-breaking four wins.

Twiston-Davies did not make the trip to Haydock, but said on Monday morning: “He’s come out of the race 100 per cent, no bother at all.

“I was very pleased and delighted with him.”

With connections deciding against entering for the King George VI Chase at Kempton, Anthony Bromley, racing manager to owners Simon Munir and Isaac Souede, raised Wetherby’s Rowland Meyrick as a possible Boxing Day alternative in the immediate aftermath of Saturday’s triumph.

However, Twiston-Davies confirmed he will go straight for the Cotswold Chase at Cheltenham before either returning to Prestbury Park for the Gold Cup or heading to Aintree for the Grand National.

“We won’t run him over Christmas – he’ll go for the Cotswold Chase at the end of January. He won’t go for the Rowland Meyrick,” said the Naunton-based trainer.

“We’ll see how he goes in the Cotswold Chase. If he does really well he might go for the Gold Cup, otherwise he’ll go straight to the National.

“He looks as good as ever.”

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?

“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.”

Betfair Chase Trends

Staged at Haydock Park racecourse the Betfair Chase Registered as the Lancashire Chase) is a Grade One race and is run over a slightly longer trip (3m1f). The contest is a fairly new one, being first run in 2005 and takes place in November each season.

Trainer Paul Nicholls has made the race his own, winning the decent prize 6 times in the last 12 years, including four times with Kauto Star, while in 2017 and 2018 we saw the popular grey Bristol De Mai land the pot twice and giving his trainer – Nigel Twiston-Davies – his third success in the contest. 12 months ago the Colin Tizzard camp fired in their fourth Betfair Chase winner when Lostintranslation beat Bristol De Mai.

Here at Geegeez we are on hand with all the key stats ahead of the 2020 renewal – this year run on Saturday November 21st 2020.

 

Recent Betfair Chase Winners

2019 - LOSTINTRANSLATION (5/4 fav)
2018 – BRISTOL DE MAI (13/2)
2017 – BRISTOL DE MAI (11/10 fav)
2016 – CUE CARD (15/8 fav)
2015 – CUE CARD (7/4)
2014 - SILVINIACO CONTI (10/3)
2013 – CUE CARD (9/1)
2012 – SILVINIACO CONTI (7/4)
2011 – KAUTO STAR (6/1)
2010 – IMPERIAL COMMANDER (10/11 fav)
2009 – KAUTO STAR (4/6 fav)
2008 – SNOOPY LOOPY (33/1)
2007 – KAUTO STAR (4/5 fav)
2006 – KAUTO STAR (11/10 fav)
2005 – KINGSCLIFF (8/1)

Key Betfair Chase Betting Trends

15 Previous runnings
13/15 - Won over at least 3m (fences) previously
12/15 - Raced within the last 4 weeks
12/15 – Won by and Irish (4) or French (8) bred horse
12/15 - Placed in the top three in their last race
12/15 - Won a Grade One chase previously
11/15 - Raced at Haydock previously
10/15 - Officially rating of 168 or higher
10/15 – Favourites placed
8/15 – Aged 8 or older
8/15 - Winning distance - 2 ½ lengths or less
7/15 - Raced at Wetherby in the Charlie Hall last time out
7/15 – Won by a previous winner of the race
7/15 – Winning favourites
6/15 – Won their latest race
4/15 - Raced at Aintree last time out
The average winning price in the last 15 runnings is 5/1
The Paul Nicholls yard has won the prize in 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2012 & 2014
The Nigel Twiston-Davies yard has won the prize in 2010, 2017 and 2018 
The Colin Tizzard yard has won the race in 2013, 2015, 2016 and 2019

 

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.”