Racing Wetherby, Ascot, Down Royal and Breeders’ Cup
With the favourites out of the frame, two stablemates battle it out for a one-two to give their Gloucestershire trainer a fifth Charlie Hall triumph
THE stars were supposed to shine at Wetherby (4 November), but it was the sun that dazzled instead. In the Charlie Hall Chase, neither Coneygree — hero of the Gold Cup in 2015 — nor Cue Card, winner of nine Grade One races, completed the course, with the bright, low sun on the back straight to blame.
Coneygree rather unnerved himself as he guessed at the first open ditch and took off far too early, hurt himself when he landed steeply at the next and, clearly uncomfortable, was soon pulled
up by Nico de Boinville. A circuit later, Cue Card appeared simply not to see the fence before the turn for home, breasted it and turned over — just as Paddy Brennan had moved him into contention.
Happily, both horses will be back to fight another day. However, Coneygree, who suffered an over-reach, will miss the
Betfair Chase at Haydock later this month.
With the two main fancies out of the game, third-favourite
Bristol De Mai prevailed, giving Nigel Twiston-Davies a onetwo as he beat his stablemate Blaklion in a tight finish. It was a record fifth win in the Grade Two three-miler — the first stop on the domestic programme for Gold Cup contenders — for the Gloucestershire trainer, after Tipping Tim, Young Hustler and two from Ollie Magern.
NOTWITHSTANDING the misfortunes of Coneygree and
Cue Card, Bristol De Mai is a properly talented young chaser. The six-year-old went to the front early on the second circuit and by the last his only challenger was Blaklion, this year’s Grand National fourth. Both horses showed an excellent attitude as they battled up the run-in, but Bristol De Mai — who was conceding 6lb to his tough little stablemate — was just the classier, by half a length, with 23 lengths back to Definitly Red.
“He was a bit fresh early doors,” said winning jockey Daryl Jacob. “So I just let him stride along and that probably sorted him out.”
The next target for Bristol De Mai, owned by finance businessmen Simon Munir and Isaac Souede, will be the Betfair Chase, where he is likely to meet Cue Card again.
“He’s not seven yet, so he should come into his own this season,” added Nigel TwistonDavies. “He’s a really nice horse and to give weight and a beating to Blaklion is very decent form.”
Half an hour earlier, Munir and Souede’s French-trained Alex De Larredya had taken a Grade One hurdle prize at Auteuil, but not everything went entirely to plan for them and Twiston-Davies, as their well-fancied Wholestone had to give best to Colin’s Sister in the other Grade Two at Wetherby, the West Yorkshire Hurdle.
The mare, trained by H&H columnist Fergal O’Brien, and home-bred by Caroline BeresfordWylie, had too much firepower for both Wholestone and the other joint-favourite, last year’s Stayers’ Hurdle runner-up Lil Rockerfeller, scooting away under Paddy Brennan over the last two hurdles to score by two lengths and win her fifth race in six outings.
‘He should come into his own this season’
NIGEL TWISTON-DAVIES ON SIX-YEAR-OLD BRISTOL DE MAI
Bristol De Mai beats stablemate Blaklion to land the Charlie Hall Chase, after the two favourites failed to complete
Colin’s Sister, winner of the Grade Two hurdle under Paddy Brennan