Great Britain Preview: Bristol De Mai back on favorite track

February 17th, 2023

The top National Hunt races are spread around three venues this weekend, with graded jumping races at Ascot, Haydock, and Wincanton.

We will concentrate on the Grand National Trial at Haydock, which has drawn an even field with plenty of chances, and look for spot plays at some of the other major races.

Haydock, Race 3, 9:40 a.m. ET: Grand National Trial Handicap, 3 9/16 miles, open steeplechase

Grand National Trial Selections

  • #1 Bristol De Mai
  • #6 Fontaine Collonges
  • #10 The Two Amigos
  • #2 Quick Wave

Grand National Trial Wagers

  • $10 win/$20 show: #1 Bristol De Mai
  • $1 trifecta: 1, 6 with 1, 2, 6, 10 with 1, 2, 6, 10

I don’t normally like tipping 12-year-olds that have seen better days, even in handicaps. #1 Bristol De Mai at Haydock Park, however, is an exception.

Good enough to run third in the Cheltenham Gold Cup (G1) in 2019 in his heyday, the popular grey hasn’t run to that level for a while. However, he has still proven competitive at Haydock. In nine races at this track, he’s won six times and been runner-up once, and those victories include this race last year, albeit after the disqualification of the winner on the day due to a banned substance positive.

This season, he’s raced just once, for a fourth-place finish at Haydock against potential Gold Cup runners in the Lancashire Chase (G1) in November. This will be much easier, and though he isn’t the same force he once was, he can’t be ignored at this track.

Trainer Venetia Williams has two good chances here. Her top jockey, Charlie Deutsch, has chosen to ride #6 Fontaine Collonges, who this season won at this track Nov. 19 before finishing fourth at Kempton Park Dec. 27. He hasn’t raced at this distance yet, but I’ll back Deutsch’s judgment.

Williams’ other solid chance is #2 Quick Wave. She was an impressive winner at Sandown Dec. 3 and her failure in the Welsh Grand National Dec. 27 behind #10 The Two Amigos is forgivable given the very soft track that day.

Ascot, Race 3, 9:25 a.m. ET: Swinley Handicap, 3 miles, open steeplechasers

#12 Cap Du Nord may well start favorite after finishing second in a Grade 3 race at Doncaster Jan. 28, and he should go well again. But I’m going to support #7 Laskalin, who since having wind surgery in September has run three times for a first, second, and third.

  • $10 win/$20 show: #7 Laskalin

Ascot, Race 5, 10:35 a.m. ET: Ascot Chase (G1), 2 5/8 miles, open steeplechase

This race last year went to #2 Fakir D’oudairies, and there’s nothing wrong with his form this season, having won the Horse & Jockey Hotel Chase (G2) at Thurles Jan. 22.

He faces former two-mile chase superstar #6 Shishkin, who’s on the comeback trail, and #5 Pic D’Orhy, unbeaten in three runs this season. But I’m sticking to the proven form.

  • $20 win: #2 Fakir D’oudairies