Trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies hailed Bristol De Mai as “one of the best horses in the country” after the striking grey put his rivals to the sword and secured back-to-back victories in the Grade 1 Betfair Chase (3m1½f) at Haydock on Saturday.
The lead-up to the £200,000 contest had been dominated by the much-anticipated clash between last season’s Gold Cup one-two, Native River and Might Bite. However, it was Bristol De Mai who proved the best of a field that also contained Thistlecrack and Clan Des Obeaux.
He out-jumped and out-galloped them today; he’s a very good horse
Under regular partner Daryl Jacob, Bristol De Mai was soon in a good rhythm at the head of affairs. As the field entered the home straight, the pair had the rest of the field in trouble.
Four smooth, faultless jumps saw the son of Saddler Maker pull clear to beat Native River by a comfortable four and a half lengths, with a length and three-quarters back to Thistlecrack in third. The Nicky Henderson-trained Might Bite disappointed, finishing last of the five-runner field.
Twiston-Davies said: “Bristol De Mai is one of the best horses in the country. He’s just been very fragile and keeping him 100% is the problem.
“The more fun in life is being the underdog when you’re the one who shouldn’t win.
“What a super ride from Daryl. He got the pace right and had everyone struggling a long way out. He out-jumped and out-galloped them today; he’s a very good horse.”
Jacob added: “It’s brilliant for Bristol De Mai and I’m absolutely chuffed to bits for him. He was completely forgotten about this year and he’s given his all out there.
“Hopefully the spectators at Haydock enjoyed seeing five fantastic horses go to war with each other. It was a truly magnificent horse race win, lose or draw.”
Paisley Park provides huge thrill to owner
Lifelong racing fan Andrew Gemmell was given the thrill of his life when his talented Paisley Park got up in the dying strides to win the Grade 3 Betfair Exchange Stayers’ Handicap Hurdle Race (3m58y) earlier on Saturday.
Gemmell, who has been blind all his life, had previously been involved with syndicates such as Million In Mind, but the Emma Lavelle-trained Paisley Park is solely his.
“I just can’t believe it,” he said. “I didn’t think we’d get there but we did!”
The six-year-old, who carried 11st 12lb, is likely to head to the Grade 1 JLT Long Walk Hurdle (3m1f) at Ascot next month.
Lavelle said: “I wish the race had been a bit more relaxing! This race had always been the plan and very rarely does a plan come together.
“His performance today pushes him out of these handicaps and Andrew’s great plan has been the Long Walk.”