Bristol De Mai back on track after Newbury knock
The team behind Bristol De Mai are ready to roll the dice and pitch him into the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup after pinpointing an early-race injury as a contributory factor in his poor run behind Native River in the Denman Chase.
The six-year-old is back cantering after recovering from the knock at Newbury, where he started favourite but jumped and travelled without fluency.
Pushed out to a best-priced 33-1 for the Gold Cup, Bristol De Mai will be part of a dozen-strong festival team for owners Simon Munir and Isaac Souede, whose racing manager Anthony Bromley selected JLT Novices’ Chase hope Top Notch as their best chance of a winner.
Cheltenham in his sights
“We’re still going to have a go at the Gold Cup,” said Bromley about the Nigel Twiston-Davies-trained Bristol De Mai. “The general feeling was he took more out of himself in his previous race at Haydock than we realised.
“Daryl [Jacob] didn’t think he was going from about the third fence. Nigel said he was very lame on a joint, his near-fore. He whacked his joint in the race, got a cut and was very sore the next day.
“He did jump very steeply over a couple early doors and I suspect that’s when he did it. Daryl said he was hanging to the right, which was away from the joint he hit. But he’s sound now and returned to cantering over the weekend.
"We’re going to try to recharge his batteries and Nigel is hopeful he can get him to Cheltenham.”
On the Gold Cup challenge he added: “It’s a big roll of the dice. Even the distance is still an unknown and there are some very smart horses in there. He’s a lovely horse but he is an outsider, don’t get us wrong.”
Top Notch, unbeaten in his last four starts, was on Monday a best-priced 5-1 for the JLT and Bromley said: “He goes for that. He’s the Grade 1 winner among them and has probably got the best chance for the owners at the festival.
“Messire Des Obeaux will be kept in the Supreme in case it came up soft or heavy on the first day. But the likelihood is that he’ll go for the Neptune. Wholestone goes for the Albert Bartlett.
“We were happy with Sceau Royal’s run in the Kingwell. It’s an open Champion Hurdle and the aim is to go there. It’s tough for a five-year-old and he needs to improve a little bit more, but he travels and jumps well. Footpad is also more likely to go there than the Stayers’ Hurdle.
"Calett Mad will probably go for the National Hunt Chase. He didn’t like the gluey ground at Wetherby. Domperignon Du Lys, who has won two out of three for Nicky Henderson, will go for the Fred Winter.
"Including the handicaps, the owners could have a dozen runners. L’Ami Serge will be entered everywhere, in handicap hurdles and chases, and he’s also being left in the Champion Chase. He’s entered in the National Spirit on Sunday, but he could go fresh to Cheltenham.”
Henderson has also entered Different Gravey in Fontwell’s £80,000 Totepool-sponsored National Spirit, while on Saturday Charli Parcs could feature in Kempton’s BetBright-backed Adonis Hurdle, which the trainer won with subsequent Triumph Hurdle winner Soldatino in 2010.