Top weight was Nigel Twiston-Davies’ flashy grey Bristol De Mai. The Charlie Hall winner was favourite at post time. Last year’s winner Cue Card lined up once again in the race. An air of curiosity and anticipation surrounded the gutsy bay about whether the nine times Grade 1 winner could return to his former glory. Last time out, he fell in the Charlie Hall that Bristol De Mai won. As a result, usual partner Paddy Brennan was switched off and young, up and coming jockey Harry Cobden was put on. Betfred Bowl winner Tea For Two lined up for the first time and Lexus Chase winner Outlander contested first leg of the Jump Racing Triple Crown. The two outsiders Shantou Flyer and Traffic Fluide completed the field.
What happened in the race?
Bristol De Mai led from the beginning and jumped out of the heavy ground with ease. Outlander and Cue Card sat at the leader’s heals in second and third for the majority of the race. At the thirteenth fence, Shantou Flyer made a mistake and was soon pulled up. Traffic Fluide began to struggle in the bottomless ground and detached at the back of the field. At five out, Cue Card and Outlander both weren’t fluent and Tea For Two began to make ground on them. On the front end, Bristol De Mai began to extend his lead and drew clear at this point. He ran on completely unchallenged whilst the rest floundered in the mud. There was a scary moment at the 2nd last when he made a mistake but he galloped on strongly and crossed the finish line before the others had even jumped the last. Exhausted, Tea For Two almost unseated Lizzie Kelly when he crashed through the top of the last fence and lost his place when Cue Card and Outlander passed him to finish 57 lengths back in second and third.
Was the race as good as last year?
Combined, last year’s runners had 18 Grade 1s between them. This year’s runners had 16. The winner, Bristol De Mai, won the Charlie Hall Chase last time out so he had wining form coming into the race. Cue Card was third in that race last year before coming and winning this race. People could argue that the ground beat the rest of the field but they all had heavy ground winning form so their wasn’t really an excuse. In my opinion, Bristol De Mai is something really special because you don’t win a Grade One unless you are something very special. Looking forward to seeing what’s to come from this brilliant grey!