Today’s Racing News: A Lot of Good Horses Run Poorly In Big Race

Straight after what is probably the most extraordinary performance I’ve seen on a racecourse in fifty years, my twitter timeline glittered with Wows! Bristol De Mai had just won the Betfair Chase by a margin usually associated with something like a Foinavon Grand National where a disaster occurs at a fence and every other horse is disadvantaged.

Well, it took just minutes to learn that all of Bristol De Mai’s rivals had indeed been disadvantaged, ITV pundits, including AP McCoy appeared to agree, to a man, that nothing behind Bristol De Mai had ‘run its race’. The grey horse only won like that because today the rest were crap. Quite a few on twitter soon confirmed that this indeed was the case. I checked on The Racing Forum and, yep, sure enough, Bristol De Mai wasn’t actually much good after all.

Really? Is this what racing wants to be?

If you watched, have you ever seen anything like that in a Grade One? Ever? Does it matter that Bristol De Mai was better suited to the conditions than his rivals were? Why does this fact mean everything else was 35lbs below ‘normal’ form in the ground? Why wasn’t Bristol De Mai 35lbs above ‘normal form’?

I get it from a historical handicapping viewpoint, but when a sport cannot glorify a performance never seen from even Arkle or Kauto Star or Denman or Sprinter Sacre, what stage have we reached?

When we cannot celebrate a victory like that because every horse in the race must be given a pass, no wonder we struggle to gain fans.

It’s not as if Bristol De Mai was quickly fitted with a hovercraft skirt or something before he jumped off. He was equipped exactly the same as his rivals. The reason they all looked second raters was Bristol De Mai. Had he not been there, everything would suddenly, in the eyes of the experts have run its race. The other horses were not amiss. They did not all have a bad day at the office. They were exhausted because of the pace set by Bristol De Mai.

This beautiful big six-year-old grey horse just waltzed home by fifty-seven lengths in a Grade One Steeplechase and much of what I hear from veteran racing fans is carping. Seriously?

We are in a sport where a horse would have been more highly credited for winning by ten lengths in a slower time. Think about that.  It’s utterly ridiculous . . . shamefully so. A historic day in the sport, a memory of ten lifetimes for his connections sullied by excuses for the losers.

Oh, by the way, there were six other winners at Haydock today. Arguably, all were better suited to the conditions than their rivals and none contested a Grade One. Add the winning distances of all six and their total still falls short of Bristol De Mai’s by seven lengths.


Deep stats for the Betvictor Gold Cup

Courtesy of my friend Chris Bagnall at Horseracebase here are the detailed stats for the weekend’s big handicap steeplechase at Cheltenham. Most trends analysts go back a maximum of 10 years. Horseracebase statistics run from 1997, assuming of course the race has been in the calendar that long.

Age of winner


Days since winner last ran

days since

Number of wins at the race distance – 2m4.5f

distance wins

Number of wins at a shorter distance

wins less dist

Number of wins at a longer distance

wins above dist

Weight carried by winner


Number of runs winner had had that season

season runs

Where winner finished in previous run

prev run

Winner’s official rating


Winner’s odds


Winner’s number of runs in previous 365 days

no of runs

Maximum trip over which the winner has won

max dist win

Maximum trip over which the winner has run

max dist run

Winner’s position in betting market (1 = fav: 2 = 2nd fav etc)


Good luck