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No retirement yet for Bristol De Mai with Cotswold Chase named as likely target

Bristol De Mai: three-time Betfair Chase winner was pulled up on Saturday
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Nigel Twiston-Davies stressed there were no immediate plans to retire Bristol De Mai after he was pulled up in the Betfair Chase on Saturday.

The ten-year-old was attempting to equal Kauto Star's record of four wins in the Grade 1 chase but weakened quickly out of contention in the home straight before eventually being pulled up before the second-last by Daryl Jacob. A Plus Tard went on to win by 22 lengths.

Bristol De Mai's two highest RPRs came when the race was run on heavy ground and his trainer accepted conditions were not to his liking, while admitting age had somewhat caught up with the grey, who has won 11 of his 37 races.

Future plans are open to debate but a return to the Paddy Power-sponsored Cotswold Chase at Cheltenham on January 29 is one likely option. He has finished second in that race in the last two seasons, first behind Santini and then Native River when the race was rescheduled at Sandown.

Twiston-Davies said on Sunday: "He's fine, he seems himself. I think it's clear he's not quite as fast as he once was. It was a high-quality race and he didn't have the softer ground to slow them up a bit. I thought he was ripe but he's not as quick as he was. I thought he jumped brilliant though.

"I've no idea where we go next, I'll need to discuss it with the owners but we'll be waiting for it to rain. We'll have to reassess the whole thing; there are very few races for him.

"Before this happened we had thought about the Cotswold Chase at Cheltenham. We'll probably end up there again, but we'll see how the handicapper reassesses him. We could consider dropping him into a handicap, we'll see."

A Plus Tard stretches clear of Royale Pagaille (pink) in the Betfair Chase

The next target is far more obvious for Royale Pagaille. Venetia Williams intends taking the Betfair Chase runner-up to the Ladbrokes King George VI Chase on Boxing Day for which he is as short as 16-1.

"I was very pleased," she said. "He ran really well but we were all put in our place by A Plus Tard, who was hugely impressive.

"I think we'll probably head for the King George next. He's a course winner but I sincerely hope it's not quick ground. The ground wasn't necessarily as important as one might have thought before Saturday's race, but Kempton quick ground is something different again.

"We'll see who comes though. I'm sure Paul [Nicholls] will be heavy handed and it'll be interesting to see whether the Irish come over."

Kim Bailey admitted he was frustrated by the fall of Imperial Aura, who appeared to be travelling well before departing six from home. He became the first faller in the race's 16-year history but was reported unscathed by his trainer.

Bailey said: "He's fine. He's out in the field this afternoon, so he's good. It was frustrating. I thought he was going to run a very big race – whether he would have won I don't know, but he might have finished second.

"He was travelling well but so he should have. He's got some very good form and it was nice to see him going well, he jumped nicely too. It was just unfortunate."

Imperial Aura: travelled well before falling

The 12-1 shot was in third before coming down in the back straight, denying his connections an opportunity to see if he would have truly stayed the trip on his first test beyond three miles in two years.

Bailey added of future targets: "I need a week to see how he is before we start thinking about any decisions; that'll be made as we go along. We want to make sure the horse is right first.

"He hadn't gone three miles, that's the annoying thing about it, so it's difficult to know how he would have stayed. He looked good at the time but he didn't finish the race."


Read more on the Betfair Chase

Lee Mottershead: Blackmore hails a phenomenal A Plus Tard - and she was right

A Plus Tard made new Gold Cup favourite after 22-length Betfair Chase rout

Can Betfair Chase winner A Plus Tard go one better in the Gold Cup?


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Before this happened we had thought about the Cotswold Chase at Cheltenham, we'll probably end up there again
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