It was a pleasure to work for Racing TV at Haydock on Saturday and witness Lostintranslation's victory in the Betfair Chase. A Grade 1 winning novice chaser last season, Colin Tizzard's gelding had created a favourable impression on his reappearance at Carlisle in the Colin Parker Memorial Chase this month. Stepping back up to three miles, he was given a patient ride by Robbie Power before making his move turning for home. Bristol De Mai, who was unbeaten in four visits to the Merseyside track and seeking his third successive victory in the race, set the tempo but couldn't match the winner after the last. A length and a half winner, Colin Tizzard's latest star stayed on strongly on the run-in to record his second Grade 1 victory. The King George at Kempton on Boxing Day is next on his agenda and he goes there with major claims.
Arguably his biggest threat at the Sunbury track will be provided by Cyrname, who ended Altior's unbeaten record over obstacles (19 races) in the Grade 2 Christy 1965 Chase at Ascot. Paul Nicholls' ex-French gelding has made remarkable progress during the last twelve months having only finished seventh in the two mile handicap on the same card last year off a rating of 150. Now rated 176, he made all under Harry Cobden and, even allowing the fact the runner-up is expected to improve fitness wise, I would expect him to confirm the form if the pair clash again on Boxing Day. The champion trainer and his team at Ditcheat have done a fantastic job with Cyrname and their patience is now bearing fruit. The fact the seven year old missed the end of season Festivals in the spring has turned out to be a blessing in disguise.
Sue Smith finally trained her first winner of the 2019/2020 season at Uttoxeter on Sunday but it was frustrating to see Midnight Shadow get edged out in the Graduation Chase at Haydock twenty four hours earlier. A faller at the last in a similar event at Carlisle this month, he looked certain to win going to the last on Saturday. However, having raced keenly early on, his stamina ran out on the run-in and the strong stayer Keepers Hill prevailed by half a length with the pair fourteen lengths clear of the rest. The two miles five trip stretched the Midnight Legend gelding and he will be seen to better advantage over shorter trips in due course. The disappointment of the race was Chepstow winner Jarveys Plate, who had beaten subsequent Grade 2 winner Reserve Tank at the Welsh track. Fergal O'Brien's charge produced a laboured effort finishing last of four. I spoke to Fergal afterwards and he reported that the gelding was flat throughout and Paddy Brennan was never happy with him.
There was some good action at Gowran Park where Willie Mullins was responsible for a treble - all three horses were included in One Jump Ahead. Franco De Port, who is featured in the French Revolution section, was a five and a half lengths winner of the two mile novices' hurdle on his Irish debut. Ireland's champion trainer has won the same event with the likes of Douvan (beat Sizing John) and Sharjah in the past. It was great to see Laurina make a winning start to her chasing career. Absent since finishing a distant fourth in the Champion Hurdle, the Spanish Moon mare was back to form producing a fine round of jumping and making the most of her sex allowance beating the dual Grade 1 winner Minella Indo (wants further) by eight lengths. Owned by Jared Sullivan, she has a big future over fences.
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