Haydock Park,Saturday 25th November 2017,Betfair Chase Day

In truly attritional conditions that led to at times some unedifying sights of weary but brave horses struggle on through the very heavy ground at Haydock after a week that saw rain,rain and more rain get chucked at this part of the north west,the crowd showed their huge appreciation for a truly breathtaking display of front running as Bristol De Mai made the step up to the big league in some style as he bagged his second straight win of the season by scooping up the Grade One Betfair Chase and showed the other runners who the daddy was much like a lion down the A580 at the nearby Knowsley Safari Park to the rest of the pack as he romped home by a wide margin 57 lengths,a distance which really had to be seen to be believed. 

Despite being down the field in his last two starts,most notably the Cheltenham Gold Cup and the Aintree Bowl in the spring, Bristol De Mai has clearly gotten more streetwise and smarter during his holidays with this assured performance following on from his recent win at Wetherby in the Charlie Hall Chase, In truth he didn’t have much of a race at all as the rest in behind were virtually walking home in behind, Cue Card under Harry Cobden never travelled well and was pushed along through halfway,Irish raider Outlander never figured and Tea For Two got a bit spooked in the parade ring most notably when “Fanfare For The Common Man” was piped over the tannoy but ran with credit before tiring towards the end. 

Runners down at the start

Bristol De Mai is more than likely going to head to Kempton on Boxing Day although should Might Bite turn up safe then he may not get things his own way and a better option would be the Lexus at Leopardstown instead, whatever happens we look to be set fair for a real Christmas Classic. 

Bristol De Mai

A high quality supporting card on the day brought about some varied finishes but the most visually impressive one came in the staying hurdle over 2m7f and using traditional hurdles as Haydock seem to have got rid of the fixed brush ones which is a shame but Sam Spinner under Joe Colliver bowled out the opposition and enforced a follow on for many of the others as he romped home very easily indeed to give trainer Jedd O’Keeffe a nice Saturday winner here, stepping up to this new trip he relished the conditions making a mockery of his mark of 139 which looks set for a bit of a hike now so he looks to be going up in grade soon and it’s possible regulars will see him here for the Rendlesham as a possibility in February. 

Christian Williams burgeoning training career received a huge boost as Limited Reserve landed the 2m3f Handicap Hurdle in good style drawing away from his only challenger Man Of Plenty after the last flight, runner up behind the very useful Elgin on his last start at Ascot he relished the step back up in trip under the very useful conditional James Bowen (5) and should be able to fine more improvement now for his new stable. 

As well as the big chase in the afternoon, the colours of Simon Munir and Isaac Souede came good in the first race a Listed Novice Hurdle over very nearly 2m with the Ben Pauling trained Delire D’estruval on only his second start in Britain, fourth at Aintree two weeks ago over 2m4f he benefitted from the drop back in trip but he had to work to land this as Midnight Shadow from the Sue Smith yard just went down by a neck with the very disappointing favourite Dynamite Dollars back in third albeit only by a length or so. 

Paul Nicholls’ stable box seldom leaves Haydock empty handed at this meeting and Clan Des Obeaux showed his class to take the 2m5f Graduation Chase very easily in the end in what looked a decent renewal as he brushed aside Vintage Clouds by 7 lengths with the minimum of fuss, apart from a slight error at the fifth fence he jumped very nicely in the end should be more than capable of landing a nice prize somewhere during the season, this trip is probably as far as he wants for now although he should get three miles in time.  

Clan Des Obeaux

Finally a couple of decent staying handicap chases on the card both brought easy finishes and eventful races, first up the 3m4f race which was taken in easy style by the Sue Smith trained Hainan who left his poor showing at Ayr three weeks ago well behind as he relished the step up in trip under Danny Cook and effortlessly drew 12l clear from favourite Courtown Oscar, Eight horses set out but only four came home so testing were the conditions and this 6yo showed that he could be a force to be reckoned with in the long distance division. 

The 3m1f race at the end saw last seasons Midlands National hero Chase The Spud smash his rivals with contempt under Paddy Brennan, this was a very useful victory and should set him up for a pop at the Welsh National in December, just like the other staying race it was a case of eight set out but four came home both I should hasten to add all the horses came back safe and sound. 

Fair to say the crowd got their money’s worth this afternoon and while some of the finishes weren’t pretty to see it did show the toughness that both horses and jockeys have to have in winter national hunt racing, Class act of the day without doubt was Bristol De Mai and at the moment it shows that the staying chase division is completely wide open. 

Some of the well fancied horses might not have showed their true running today but with testing conditions they can be forgiven.  

All being well we return here in about ten days time for a more quiet midweek meeting that should throw up the odd potential star of the future. 

Till we meet again,Goodbye.  

Aintree Races,Saturday 11th November 2017,Aintree Community Raceday. 

Saturday afternoon and for fans of the flat they were all gathered on the Town Moor for the last hurrah before singing a rendition of Auld Lang Syne as the turf flatseason came to its natural close to send them into their winter hibernation until the spring but for fans of the winter game things began just to crank up a gear and for yours truly it was off to Aintree again for Community Raceday which had a good mix of races for people to get their teeth into. 

The afternoon proved to be a huge day in the career of promising young conditional jockey Mitchell Bastyan as he and his current five pound claim both came to good use as the Evan Williams trained 9yo landed the big 2m4f handicap chase at Aintree in some style seemingly coming from another county after being held up early doors he ran away very readily in the style of a horse seemingly back to his best, this was a very competitive looking race and On Tour has plenty of options it would seemingly appear with possible races the big December handicap at Cheltenham over 2m5f or possibly a return here for the Sefton over the famous green fences on the 9th of December. 

On Tour having a welcome drink

The Skelton brothers Dan and Harry got the afternoon off to a perfect start when they landed the first two races on the card. 

First up the dark blue jacket and cap of Sue Magnier passed the line in the opening 2m4f novice hurdle, now these colours are more likely to be spotted in plenty of races down the M53 at the Chester May Meeting but plenty jumpers have appeared too and Hear No Evil put in a fine professional display to win the race in nice style, placed in a couple of bumpers last season he looks like he will make a quality hurdler and is one to keep an eye on. 

Dan and Harry quickly got the double up in the next race when Captain Chaos used his previous chasing experience to good stead to easily land the 3m1f novice chase, despite diving at the second fence he put in an exemplary round of jumping and this should boost his confidence for the rest of the season, a faller in last seasons Towton at Wetherby it’s been mentioned by Dan Skelton that he could be heading back up to Yorkshire next February to gain compensation, he is certainly one for the big long distance chases when upped in grade, the biggest disappointment came from favourite Geordie Des Champs who put in a poor round but deserves another go. 

Captain Chaos

Just three turned out for the feature 2m4f hurdle which saw last seasons top staying hurdler Unknowhatimeanharry get some easy pickings under Barry Geraghty for trainer Harry Fry as he saw off the other two runners Value At Risk in second place and the third placed Top Notch, this will set him up nicely for a return to Newbury in the Long Distance then all the other big staying hurdle races before trying to go two places better in the stayers’ hurdle at the Cheltenham festival. 

A circuit to go!

Louis’ Van Pouch cleaned up in the Pertemps Qualifier over 3m for the Hobbs and Johnson partnership, in what looked on paper a more than useful staying hurdle Louis’ Vac Pouch showed much improvement for the step up in trip after his seasonal reappearance at Chepstow over shorter and now looks to be going the right way, he asserted his authority over handicap debutant Forza Milan and no doubt will be aimed at the final come March. 

Tom George left Aintree a very happy bunny after Baby King just got the nod in a photo for the 2m handicap chase ahead of Ut Majeur Aulmes, they didn’t go a helter skelter gallop like they normally do in the Red Rum Chase here in April but it was solid and he picked up nicely on the flat after the last fence to just pip his nose on the line. 

Finally the concluding bumper which was run in ever fading light only had four in it due to two non runners before hand and then Wimpole bolting on his way down and looking more likely that a maiden over 7f would suit him more than 2m, in the end the famous green and yellow colours of Trevor Hemmings got into the winners enclosure as debutant Welsby who might possibly have been named after the former ITV football presenter Elton Welsby came away readily under Ned Curtis (5) for the inform Nicky Henderson stable, he has a nice look about him and will be even better when sent hurdling. 

Welsby wins


Forza Milan, 5yo trained by Jonjo O’Neill showed much improvement to be second in the Pertemps Qualifer and has a good future ahead of him, one to notice if he gets laid out for the final. 

Spider’s Bite,5yo trained by Henry Daly was staying on third in the 2m 4f novice hurdle and looks like he will be even better when sent handicapping over 3m in the future. 

Gardefort,8yo trained by Venetia Williams was in the process of running a career best in the feature 2m4f chase when making a real horlicks at the final ditch which cost him but he travelled well and providing the handicapper doesn’t overreact he has a big race in him this season. 

Next up on here is the big Betfair Chase day at my local course Haydock in two weeks time and with the quality of runners entered already looking hot it could well be the race of the season!