Betfair Chase (Grade 1) | 3m1½f | 5yo+ | ITV/RTV
Tizzard eager to unleash Lostintranslation
Paul Nicholls may be renowned as the Betfair Chase king – he has won it six times, four of those with the brilliant Kauto Star – but Colin Tizzard isn't far behind him.
Tizzard is seeking a fifth win in the race, having landed it with Cue Card in 2013, 2015 and 2016, and Lostintranslation last year.
While Nicholls has been in blistering form since the beginning of the jumps season proper, Tizzard has made a slower start.
However, the signs are that an avalanche of winners from the Dorset stable is imminent, and a major Saturday success at Haydock could well prompt the floodgates to open.
Lostintranslation, last seen running a fine race to finish third to Al Boum Photo in the Cheltenham Gold Cup during a week when not all his stablemates performed to expectations, has shown flashes of brilliance in his career, but leaves the impression the best may yet be to come.
"He is in great form and we are looking forward to getting his season started," Tizzard said. "He went for an away day recently and we were really happy with the way he galloped.
"He also schooled last Wednesday morning and I was delighted with what I saw.
"Lostintranslation is, of course, the defending champion, and we are looking forward to going back and hopefully winning the race again.
"I really couldn't be happier with him at home. That racecourse gallop will have done him the world of good and the Betfair Chase can't come soon enough."
Haydock ace Bristol back for more
People have short memories in racing. It wasn't so long ago Bristol De Mai was being hailed as "unbeatable" around his favourite patch of turf in Britain.
The Nigel Twiston-Davies-trained nine-year-old has become synonymous with Haydock and the Betfair Chase in recent years, his form figures at the track reading 11112.
Billed as racing's new superstar after destroying Cue Card by 57 lengths in 2017, he returned 12 months later to defeat a stellar cast of staying chasers that comprised Native River, Thistlecrack, Clan Des Obeaux and Might Bite.
He lost his unbeaten record in the race – and at the track – when going down by a length and a half to Lostintranslation last year, but still ran a terrific race.
While arguments over the last four years have raged over his suitability to Cheltenham and whether he is indeed a 'flat-track Haydock bully' nobody can deny he was officially rated 173 after finishing third to Al Boum Photo in the 2019 Gold Cup, a figure his principal rivals Lostintranslation and Clan Des Obeaux have also reached. It promises to be a fabulous race between three wonderful horses.
Anthony Bromley, racing manager to Bristol De Mai's owners Simon Munir and Isaac Souede reports the horse in top shape.
"He's enjoyed a better preparation than 12 months ago," Bromley said. "He's proved himself a really smart horse over the years, but he's getting older. I don't think he needs heavy ground to produce his best at Haydock."
Nicholls hoping Clan can
When Clan Des Obeaux contested the Betfair Chase at the age of six a couple of years ago he was the outsider of five and held the lowest official rating of 157.
Fast forward to now and he shares a mark of 171 with Lostintranslation and, such is the form of the Paul Nicholls operation at present, it would be no surprise if he was the horse for 'public money' on Saturday morning.
Since that defeat Clan Des Obeaux has landed two memorable successes in the King George VI Chase at Kempton.
All roads lead to him attempting a third successive victory in the Christmas showpiece, but the Betfair Chase has also been at the forefront of his plans for this season.
Those punters who are planning a bet on the Sam Twiston-Davies-ridden star will be encouraged by the words of the 11-times champion trainer.
"Clan Des Obeaux is in good shape, he looks great," Nicholls said. "I think he's improved physically and is a better, stronger horse.
"He's done all his work well. Two years ago when he ran in the Betfair we were dipping our toe in the water, really.
"We knew he'd improve tonnes for the run, and he did. This year he's been in training for an extra month so he's ready.
"All our horses are running well at the moment, which is a massive plus when you're going into a big race like this."