Nigel Twiston-Davies reacts to Randox Grand National weights
Nigel Twiston-Davies is confident multiple Grade One winner Bristol De Mai can make his class count and turn his delayed debut in the Randox Grand National into a triumphant one.
An outing in the world famous steeplechase was on the agenda for the popular grey gelding last season until the race was cancelled 12 months ago due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Having previously won the race with Earth Summit in 1998 and Bindaree in 2002, the Naunton trainer believes the Simon Munir and Isaac Souede-owned 10 year old, who has been allotted joint top weight of 11st 10lbs, has what it takes to follow in their hallowed hoofprints.
Bristol De Mai is yet to finish outside the frame in two starts this season, having claimed a third victory in the Grade One Betfair Chase at Haydock Park, before finding only Native River too strong in the rearranged Cotswold Chase at Sandown Park earlier this month.
He would have run in the race last year - we have just simply delayed it by 12 months. There is no reason why he cant carry top weight as he has the class to. I suppose in some ways he reminds me of Bindaree as he was a class horse, while Young Hustler who ran in it was also third in a Gold Cup.
The idea was to win the Betfair Chase again which he did and just see how we got on from there.
He ran a superb race at Sandown and showed he remains one of the best horses in the country.
I am not worried about the ground as it will never be fast so that is not going to be a problem. He galloped them all into the ground over three miles in heavy ground at Haydock so I think he will get the trip as he is a real stayer.
I do not know how Daryl will ride him but I would imagine he will be up there as he does get into a great rhythm ridden like that.
Twiston-Davies also has Ballyoptic (11st 1lbs) entered, who fell when travelling well in the race in 2019.
Having since put in a clear round over the same fences in the 2019 Becher Chase, Twiston-Davies feels that the 11 year old is gradually coming to the boil following a below par start to the campaign.
He has not had the best of seasons, but he has now come down the weights a little bit which is good. The plan is to run him at the weekend where he holds entries at Ascot in the race he won last year and the Rendlesham Hurdle at Haydock.
He fell at the fourth last in the race in 2019 when he was going well and he has jumped around there fine since.
We know that he stays forever and he has a good weight. He ran a really good race last time in the Classic Chase.
He was not beaten that far and he was right among them so he is starting to come back to form.
Twiston-Davies is well aware he may have to look at alternative engagements for all three of his other remaining entries - Crievehill (9st 11lbs), The Hollow Ginge (9st 11lbs) and Flying Angel (9st 10lbs) as he faces an uphill battle to get them into the race.
He added: Crievehill, if he got in we would have a look it, but I think he will struggle as will the other two and we will probably have to go elsewhere.