Darly Jacob and connections of returning Betfair Chase champion Bristol De Mai are as confident as ever of retaining their Haydock crown.
Nigel Twiston-Davies’ famous grey, now 10 years old, has won three of the last four editions of the Grade One contest, only narrowly beaten by subsequent Gold Cup third Lostintranslation in 2019.
The hugely popular gelding will aim to equal the great Kauto Star’s record of four victories in the race on Saturday, despite unseasonably dry ground expected.
- Bailey: Step up in trip to suit Imperial Aura
- Fiddlerontheroof exciting Tizzard camp ahead of Ladbrokes bid
Last seen pulling up in the Grand National at Aintree, he faces a tough task on his seasonal reappearance, with Henry De Bromhead’s Gold Cup second A Plus Tard the 11/8 favourite.
Speaking to Sky Sports Racing on Wednesday, jockey Jacob, who has ridden Bristol De Mai on all but one of his 32 career starts, said: “Everyone knows what a star he has been to all of our team. It’s a race we’re really looking forward to.
“I sat on him last week and I genuinely feel he is in as good, if not better, form than he was last year. I know he is a year older but there’s nothing that is going to stop him fitness-wise on Saturday.
“Unfortunately, we’re not going to get the rain but when he beat Native River [in 2018] it was good to soft ground.
“Ideally he’d like it a bit softer but we can’t do anything about that, so we’ve just got to go there and try our best.
“He’s best when he is fresh and that’s what he is now. I schooled him last week and we couldn’t be in any better shape.
“The confidence is very high going in there. This year, of all the years, we’re more bullish than we’ve ever been.”