Two cracking greys set the weekend alight with contrasting performances.
Let’s start up north at Haydock, where my old mate Nigel Twiston-Davies won the Betfair Chase with his often maligned (unreasonably so) Bristol De Mai. Simon Munir and Isaac Souede have put a great deal of money into our sport and this grey horse — who thrives at Haydock to the extent his runs there are almost a stone better than at any other racecourse — deserved to win this.
The free-running seven-year-old put the opposition to the sword and it paid off. There was plenty of activity before the race — a coursewalk to look at the ground and then a great deal of muttering about the fences, their size and stiffness. Even Nicky Henderson was seen shouldering a fence or two before his beloved Might Bite ran. Take the race at face value and last season’s Gold Cup contenders did not match to their past form. It’s still early on in the season, but I’m not sure there will be a £1m bonus for the Jockey Club’s Chase Triple Crown to pay out this year.
There was a record crowd at Haydock and the supporting races were good and all valuable. The Emma Lavelle-trained Paisley Park took the Betfair Exchange Stayers’ Hurdle when getting up on the line to beat Shades Of Midnight. Emma is now into her second full year at her new base near Marlborough and it is showing — she is having a great season already.
A great race
As you know, I love Charbel and have been itching to creep up to three miles with him. On 24 November at Ascot, we crept closer to that distance by going further than he has ever done before — two miles five furlongs to be precise. It nearly paid off and the Grade Two Christy 1965 Chase was a cracking race, although we were beaten into second by the other “grey of the weekend” in Politologue.
John Hales has been lucky with his greys and Politologue is another who is doing him proud. His win on Saturday, although by a diminishing half a length, was a great race to watch and now Politologue will head to Kempton Park’s Boxing Day showcase, the King George, where he is bound to meet all the runners from Saturday’s Betfair Chase at Haydock.
Three in a row?
Racing needs its stars and the great enjoyment about jump racing over Flat is that our old favourites keep coming back for more. The general public and racegoers appreciate seeing their best-loved horses year after year. On that note, how good is it to hear that Flat racing’s golden girl, Enable, is staying in training for another year. What a wonderful mare she is and three wins in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe is now a possibility.
To finish, I would like to mention what a truly magical day Cheltenham produced for the Sunday of their recent three-day meeting (16-18 November), the Gloucestershire and Racing Remembers Day. The Royal Gloucestershire Hussars dressed in traditional uniform, a special Cheltenham steam train arrived with a contingent of “Glorious Glosters” on board and all paraded on the racecourse. The Bremont Great War Display Team put on a magnificent air show with their replica war planes and, without a cloud in the sky, it was a hugely moving tribute.
Racing showed itself off well.
Ref Horse & Hound; 29 November 2018