By Geoffrey Riddle at Cheltenham
Bristol De Mai could well head to Aintree instead of Prestbury Park:
Bristol De Mai became yet another favourite to fail in the Cotswold Chase – the last winner was Cyfor Malta in 1999.
The grey was having his first start back since flopping in the King George at Kempton and a spell of convalescence due to a stomach ulcer.
In the circumstances, and given the quiet spell the Nigel Twiston-Davies stable is undergoing, and, indeed the nearby yard of Fergal O’Brien, it was a fair run but it may well have forced a rethink.
Bristol De Mai is a big horse, who has can carry big weights and a tilt at the Randox Health Grand National is a distinct possibility.
“We have asked a few questions of the horse and we have found the answers,” Anthony Bromley, racing manager to owner Isaac Soude and Simon Munir, said.
“This was a step back in the right direction.
“He doesn’t look a Gold Cup horse on that running. We might have another plan.
“He’ll get an entry on Tuesday for the Grand National. It might be the National more than the Gold Cup.”
Nigel Twiston-Davies was less vocal on the matter and is happier to play a waiting game until Tuesday.
Bristol de Mai is as big as 50-1 for the Merseyside marathon, with his stable companion Blaklion heading the market at 10-1. Any fears that a Britsol De Mai switch from the Gold Cup could jeopardise Blaklion's participation are, at this stage, unfounded.
“The National is his first preference,” Twiston-Davies said.
Definitly Red will represent the North in Gold Cup:
Definitly Red owner Phil Martin was as proud as punch after his charge powered to victory under Danny Cook in the BetBright Trial Cotswold Chase.
The nine-year-old put the returning American in the shade to the tune of eight lengths and is now a best-priced 25-1 with Coral and as short as 16-1 to become the first northern-trained winner of the Blue Riband since Jodami in 1993.
Northern trainers have had their fair share of woe these past few weeks with continuous abandonments and Martin is looking forward to coming back here for March 16. It will be Cook’s first ride in the race.
“It is brilliant for the north,” Martin said. “The only reason why the north is behind is because we have less horses. Brian has proved it. Malcolm Jefferson has proved it.”
Martin bought Definitly Red for £110,0000 at the Cheltenham Breze-Up Sale in November 2013 after seeing him win impressively in a Point-To-Point. The spelling of the name has always been a hurdle for many, and Martin elaborated on how it came about.
“Bryan Marshall trained him and he wanted to run him in a Point-To-Point so they wanted a name,” he added. “They went in to a pub and shouted how do you spell Definitely, and that is how it got spelt.
“He had won one point to point and he won that by about 20 lengths. I bought him here and he cost a few quid but , he is reasonably value for money. I’ve got a Gold Cup runner – you can only dream about those things. Many people have bought many good horses and got nowhere near the Gold Cup so we will see.”
The Last Samuri to also head to Aintree:
The BetBright Trial Cotswold Chase is set up as a prequel to the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup but it was a splendid rehearsal for Kim Bailey’s representative who was fourth behind Definitly Red.
The Last Samuri hardly had anything his way – after 30mm of rain in the week the going went against him and he had never been to Cheltenham previously.
The Last Samuri has run over the Grand National spruce four times, so far without success, and has a record of 2,16,3,2. At 25-1 with William Hill there are worse each-way bets.
Bryony Frost needs to patent her father’s magic remedy:
Bryony Frost has become associated with Saturday winners this season and Frodon showcased his consistency once more with a runaway victory in the Crest Nicholson Handicap Chase.
Frost recently skipped a day’s work due to flu, but her father Jimmy whipped up his daughter a meal and she was in good enough form to ride her 23rd winner this season.
"I have a bit of time off work through flu, which is bizarre for me and I don't quite like it,” she said through a croaky voice.
“I am not a very good patient, but I went home for a day and dad did mashed bananas with ice cream and golden syrup, which got me back on the road. Anyone with flu should have that!”
Frodon, whose jumping was impressive, could well have the Ryanair Chase in his sights but the smart money is on the Ascot Chase. Frodon won in really deep conditions last season and the going was near heavy when the six-year-old came home 17 lengths clear of Shantou Flyer.
Trainer Paul Nicholls has compared Frodon with Silviniaco Conti, his dual King George VI Chase winner, and with Ascot or Cheltenham to be decided between expect Berkshire next month, with the accent on the more likely soft ground, to be the call.
"We will enter him in the Ascot Chase and he is in the Ryanair Chase (at The Festival in March),” Harry Derham said in Nicholls’ absence. “We will go to one of those two next."
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