Bristol De Mai proves he’s the ultimate definition of horses for courses by taking his third Betfair Chase. Marcus Armytage shares his insight on the race with input from the grey’s trainer and jockey, and finds out where the horse’s ultimate aim will be this season...
When Bristol De Mai won his first Betfair Chase in 2017, he beat Cue Card 57 lengths, earning him the highest rating at the time in jump racing. On Saturday, Nigel Twiston-Davies’ grey returned to his favourite track to win the race for a third time.
The nine-year-old has never quite captured the imagination like other multiple Betfair Chase winners, such as Cue Card (also three) and Kauto Star (four), the only horse to have won it more often, probably because Bristol De Mai has never been as effective elsewhere; but he is the ultimate definition of horses for courses.
His last win away from Haydock was at Wetherby in the Charlie Hall over three years ago, when he was warming up for his first Betfair and his record is now five wins from six starts at the track – his only defeat coming to Lostintranslation a year ago.
Every year he turns up for Cheltenham and Aintree, but it never quite happens. It has been said that were the Gold Cup run at Haydock, he might be a multiple winner of that, too, but there may be something about the time of year as well. Although he won the Betfair on decent ground in 2018, he is even better in the mud and there was no shortage of that on Saturday.
His two main rivals, two-time King George winner Clan Des Obeaux and Lostintranslation, wanted better ground and it looked ominous for them when only five of the 12 starters in the handicap chase earlier in the afternoon finished – at long intervals – over the same distance.
Daryl Jacob had the grey in front or upsides in front the whole way. Lostintranslation was always struggling and was the first to crack on the home bend but three out, Clan Des Obeaux ranged alongside Bristol De Mai, going like the winner. Yet in a few strides, the petrol ran out and although he plugged on gamely to only go down by two lengths, it was a long way home for him from the second last.
“I felt good the whole way,” said Jacob afterwards. “I got a good jump three out and I thought I had enough gas to get home. I knew Sam [Twiston-Davies on Clan Des Obeaux] would have to get into a real battle with me to prevail.
“He deserves it. He’s been a wonderful horse. He comes back year after year. Last season he had a lot of issues coming here, today he was finely tuned. Stamina won the day – he has a massive heart and a lot of stamina. To win three Betfairs is very special.”
Nigel Twiston-Davies said: “He had a trouble-free run going into the race this year and I think that he could have won last year if he’d had an easier preparation. I’m not sure why the race suits him so well. As long as he keeps on winning it, I don’t mind.”
His aim now is the Grand National. He will not exactly get in the race off 10 stone, but he is a good age, he jumps brilliantly and if it rained he would not be without a chance.
The danger for Clan Des Obeaux is that he had a hard race a month out from the King George, which he seeks to win for a third time, much as Cyrname did last year. But Clan Des Obeaux has a tougher constitution than Cyrname and it may still have done him more good than harm.
Ref: Horse & Hound; 26 November 2020
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