If a racing fan is asked who springs to mind when you think of the Betfair Chase, Bristol De Mai could easily be the answer for most.
The 10-year-old is a known lover of the Haydock course, winning five of his six starts at the Merseyside track including three successes in the Grade 1 feature in November.
The gelding has forged a strong partnership with jockey Daryl Jacob and has been a loyal servant to his trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies and owners Simon Munir & Isaac Souede, returning around £800,000 in prize money over the years.
Following his third success in the Betfair Chase last year, the Gloucestershire-based trainer made the options for his talented runner clear.
“We’ll see how he goes in the Cotswold Chase. If he does well, he might go for the Gold Cup, otherwise he’ll go straight to the National.
“He looks as good as ever.”
After finishing second behind Native River in the rearranged Cotswold Chase at Sandown, the decision was made that the grey gelding would head to Aintree in April.
“He went down trying today, had a nice blow and it was a good race.”
Could Twiston-Davies’ chasing talent land the biggest race of them all? He has a tough task on his hands, to say the least.
Following the announcement of the weights, the 10-year-old has been handed a difficult assignment of having to carry the top weight of 11st 10lbs, alongside Nicky Henderson’s Santini.
The late Many Clouds won the race off 11st 9lbs back in 2015, but the last horse to win at Bristol De Mai’s weight or more was the immortal Red Rum back in 1974 who carried 12st.
Eight of the previous 11 winners had run at the Grand National meeting before this season, which the grey gelding has on several occasions.
The last six winners had fallen only once or never at all in their career which the 10-year-old has only done once, falling in the King George back in 2018.
12 of the past 15 winners had also claimed victory over 3m 1f, which Nigel Twiston-Davies’ star has done on three occasions.
The five-time Grade 1 winner supports several trends in this race, but it will take a brave performance to land victory at his weight.
But if there is a gutsy chaser with bags of talent, it’s for sure Bristol De Mai.