On paper it was billed as a two horse race, In the racing media it was billed as a two horse race but thankfully Bristol De Mai has got better things to do with his life during the week than to scroll through Twitter and read the views of the many opinions that were given on the 2018 Betfair Chase as he made his way up the M5 and the M6 on Saturday to keep his 100% Haydock Park record in tact as he stopped the potential Blitzkreig On Yickers between Might Bite and Native River in determined style to repeat his win from last year to take another Betfair Chase back to Naunton and the yard of Nigel Twiston-Davies.
Run on ground that was Good,Good to Soft in places the fences had cause for concern before the race as the two preceding steeplechases during the afternoon had five runners that had come to grief but thankfully all got up safely.
Back to the race and a fantastic five of top class jumpers lined up for the first Grade One of the season and on paper it certainly asked more questions than it answered with last seasons Betfair,King George and Gold Cup winners all lined up with an improving sort from last season and a former Stayers’ Hurdle and King George winner to make up the field.
Bristol De Mai just loves Haydock and from flag fall he shared duties up front with Native River and coming in off the final turn under Daryl Jacob began to firmly turn the screw on his grey warrior as he forged on over the final jumps and had the field easily held in behind to score by 4 lengths from Native River who never gave up as is his wont in a race of this type, Thistlecrack followed next then Clan Des Obeaux and last was the favourite Might Bite.
Plenty of different targets could lie ahead now for the field here now, Bristol De Mai will no doubt head to Kempton on Boxing Day and he has won right handed so it possible that will be the next port of call.
Native River probably isn’t suited by the Kempton so he could be better off going over to Ireland for the big Grade One at their Christmas Festival at Leopardstown which would suit his style better, Stablemate Thistlecrack will head to the Sunbury venue on Boxing Day and he ran a decent race and will come on a tom for this, Clan Des Obeaux also ran with credit and easily has a big race in him.
Without doubt the big disappointment was Might Bite who never really got into the race come the business end, he was a bit a bit twitchy in the preliminaries and was keen early on, he might be worth dropping back in trip off this run but hopefully he will bounce back on Boxing Day where the course is far more up his street than this one.
In some of the supporting races Paisley Park followed on from his win down the East Lancs at Aintree last month as he flew home like a horse running in the Temple Stakes to bag the Grade 3 Staying Hurdle under Aidan Coleman for Emma Lavelle, in a race which was much smaller field size wise compared to normal this 6yo made up plenty of ground on the run in of over 300 yards to mug Shades Of Midnight who looked all over the winner to many, Paisley Park is apparently off to Ascot next month for a step up in grade to have a go at the Long Walk Hurdle but given Emma Lavelle having a pretty decent record here then the Rendlesham in February could come into consideration.
Paul Nicholls always does well at this meeting and Grand Sancy picked up his third win of the campaign to land the Listed Newton Novices’ Hurdle, like the other hurdle winners today he sat from off the pace and finished like a train on the run in, this 4yo continues to improve and still looks to have bags of potential and will be even better when sent chasing.
Finally the talented and sometimes frustrating Vintage Clouds took the final race over the same course and distance as the Betfair albeit not up to the same quality but he boasts some top form in the big long distance handicap chases and will now find himself having a possible post Christmas trip outing to either the Rowland Meryck or the Welsh National and being from Sue Smith’s yard a visit back here in February for the National Trial then all roads will no doubt head to Aintree for a go at the Grand National.
Over 13,000 people rolled into the Lancashire venue which was awash with a sea of yellow from the many scarves being given out by the sponsors and hopefully they had an enjoyable afternoon in an atmosphere not felt at a jump meeting here for quite a while, hopefully they will return during the rest of the season.
Next up we head back here for a midweek fixture in December then it’s off to Aintree for the Becher Chase and some excellent pre Christmas fare.
Till we meet up again, Goodbye.