Bristol De Mai’s Day

Bristol De Mai on his way to victory by 57 lengths

The ITV Racing team informed us with certainty that it’s pronounced “may” and not “my”; although Tony McCoy continued to say “my” – But hey, no one wants to contradict a knighted record champion jockey with a slightly prickly personality.

Correct pronunciation was about as committed as the ITV presenters would get about Bristol De Mai who won the Betfair Chase yesterday by 57 lengths. Whilst acknowledging this was probably a record margin of victory in a Grade 1 race, such praise was equally tempered by implications that he was no more than a course specialist and Mick Fitzgerald’s reference to him being a mudlark, sought to emphasise his limitations rather than a truly great performance. There was also the back story which had been running since the earlier Opening Show, that the race was all the poorer for the absence of Sizing John.

There maybe some truth in the experts’ analysis, but what struck me was the reluctance to celebrate an astonishing run in the first Grade 1 race of the season this side of the Irish Sea, from a horse that is still only six.

I suspect there were two things at play. Firstly, that the narrative hoped for was a battling win by the nation’s favourite, Cue Card, who would then be lined up for a shot at the Triple Crown- Any hope of Bristol De Mai winning this elusive title was effectively dismissed by the pundits.  Secondly, that it probably didn’t make for great telly.  Such was the distance between Bristol De Mai and the rest, the camera team were left with the option of having only the leader in shot or the chasing pack. As Bristol De Mai headed for the winning line, the camera did briefly pan back and catch Tea For Two, staggering over a fence looking exhausted.

When asked about the horse being a course specialist after the race, winning trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies had to remind the interviewer that Bristol De Mai had won the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby earlier in the month. Unlike yesterday that race, which was also on ITV, had an exciting finish, but what was the main story to have come out of it? Oh yes, it was Cue Card- who fell.