Bristol De Mai ridden by Daryl Jacob won by two lengths

Credit: GETTY IMAGES

On a day when the mud was flying an almost spotless Bristol de Mai returned to the Haydock winners’ enclosure, a place he knows well, after making nearly all the running to win a third Betfair Chase at a rain-soaked Haydock.

Now level on three Betfair wins with Cue Card and one short of Kauto Star’s four, for some reason Bristol de Mai has never quite caught the public imagination like those two winter heroes.

But in six starts at Haydock since his first visit in January 2016, Nigel Twiston-Davies’s chaser has only been beaten once – in this race last year after a difficult preparation and even then only by a small margin.

He is not averse to heavy ground either and, with Clan Des Obeaux and last year’s winner Lostintranslation both better on less testing ground, the continuous rain in the north-west which turned the heavy ground also played into his hand.

To a certain extent, the writing was on the wall for his two illustrious rivals when only four horses finished the handicap chase over the same distance a couple of hours earlier.

Lostintranslation was the first to crack and come under pressure turning in. At that point, Clan Des Obeaux was travelling ominously well before ranging alongside Bristol de Mai three out.

But it was a short lived threat. Two out, Bristol de Mai was back on top and he galloped strongly to win by two lengths with 45 back to Lostintranslation.

It was an emotional victory for Daryl Jacob. “I felt good the whole way,” he said afterwards. “I got a good jump three out and I thought I had enough gas to get home. I knew Sam (Twiston-Davies on Clan Des Obeaux) would have to get into a real battle with me to prevail.

“He deserves it. He’s been a wonderful horse for Simon Munir and Isaac Souede, Anthony Bromley (their racing manager) and me. He comes back year after year. Last season he had a lot of issues coming here, today he was finely tuned.

“Stamina won the day – he has a massive heart and a lot of stamina. To win three Betfairs is very special. It would be great to come back for a fourth as a 10-year-old.”

The obvious danger is that Clan Des Obeaux had a hard race a month out from the King George which he seeks to win for a third time but Harry Derham, Paul Nicholls’s assistant, was delighted with his effort while, at the same time, rueing the rain.

“He ran an absolutely fantastic race,” he said. “The longer it rained the more worried we got; he’s got a lot of class and it became a stamina test and it was at the back of our minds he might get outstayed in the mud. The King George remains very much the plan.”

Earlier David Pipe’s Main Fact clocked up his ninth straight win (over jumps and on the Flat) when coming from out of the clouds to win the Betfair Stayers Exchange Handicap Hurdle, a race won by Paisley Park on the way to the Stayers Hurdle two years ago, under Fergus Gillard.

“He has an extraordinary way of going about his races,” said the 7lb claimer. “I was worried but he keeps galloping and I knew after riding in an earlier race it’s a long way home in this ground. I was going nowhere and then, out of nowhere, he came alive. Horses like this are few and far between and you have to grab the chance with both hands when you get to ride them.”