Betfair Chase - Saturday 25th November
A strict interpretation of last season’s Gold Cup would suggest BRISTOL DE MAI (best price 11-4) has little chance of beating Sizing John, but if ever he was to gain his revenge on Jessica Harrington’s charge, surely a return to the track that clearly suits his run-style best offers him the biggest opportunity to do so.
Right from day one, the son of Saddler Maker has always been a smart performer and we didn’t have to wait too long in his career for him to show what he could do over the larger obstacles. Last season’s Peter Marsh Chase signalled his real impact on the chasing landscape and that performance in which he dismantled a smart field of handicappers in an incredibly fast time, was one of the best displays based on pure numbers all season.
Unfortunately, he never recaptured the same level of performance on his last three starts which meant he went into the Charlie Hall on his return to action a rather forgotten horse. Although we lost the big two in the betting at different stages of the contest, Coneygree and Cue Card, Nigel Twiston-Davies inmate ultimately scored in the kind of determined fashion to suggest he may have beaten the pair if they’d remained in the race.
Once again, the flashy grey showed that give him a flat track, on soft ground over 3m, there’s not many better top-class staying chasers than him on his day and barring miracles with the weather, he should get similar conditions at Haydock at the end of the month. Looking at the opposition, clearly Sizing John looks the one to fear most, but it will be his first run of the season and even allowing for the fact that this is part of a potential million-pound bonus, there’s always a chance a horse of his nature (hard for Gold Cup winners to peak again the season after) will be at his most vulnerable off the back of a long layoff however his preparations may have gone. Cue Card, talented though he remains, will be rising twelve this year and having fallen three times in his last ten starts, Colin Tizzard’s charge has to be considered a dodgy betting proposition by anyone’s standards. Connections of Might Bite have stated this isn’t part of the plan in his build up to the King George, while the likes of More Of That and Tea For Two would have to improve considerably one what they achieved on their seasonal reappearance to make any sort of impact.
All in all, this Grade 1 looks like being contested by a small, but select field, and under those circumstances, BRISTOL DE MAI will be in his element. At his best when being allowed to dominate and get into a great jumping rhythm, he’s a match for any chaser either side of the Irish Sea and at top price 5-2, you will be on a guaranteed runner (barring injury of course) who will start the race itself and trade during it, at a much shorter price than available at present.