Haydock Saturday

Beffair Chase (Grade 1)

THE Grade 1 Betfair Chase saw Bristol De Mai and A Plus Tard dominate the market, with the latter sent off at 11/10 by backers. It was one-way traffic in the race, as Henry de Bromhead’s Gold Cup runner-up took advantage of the popular grey and Royal Pagaille (Venetia Williams/Charlie Deutsch) going head-to-head, travelling best held up and gradually working his way up to the leaders before being unleashed in the straight.

By this stage, Bristol De Mai – who failed to find any fluency in his jumping – was a busted flush, and while Royal Pagaille plugged on tenaciously, he had done his work by the penultimate fence and finished tired behind the 22-length winner.

This was an impressive performance, even if the others helped set it up for the winner, and it was no surprise to see him promoted to favouritism for the Gold Cup in March. He is most likely to head to Leopardstown at Christmas to attempt a repeat in the Savills Chase he won last term.

“I was sick of getting beaten in the Fortria,” joked Henry de Bromhead in the immediate aftermath of the seven-year-old’s impressive win, before confirming the Savills is next on the agenda. “It’s a fantastic race and we’re very lucky to win it. He’s achieved a hell of a lot for a horse his age.”

Also delighted was Venetia Williams, and she confirmed that, all being well, Royal Pagaille would take his place in the King George at Kempton, where he is a course-and-distance winner.

Dans Le Vent in full sail for Williams family

THERE wasn’t a prouder father at Haydock on Saturday than Evan Williams, who watched with considerable emotion as daughter Isabel guided Dans Le Vent to victory in the Grade 3 Betfair Exchange Stayers’ Handicap Hurdle.

Waited with as is his wont, Dans Le Vent joined Riggs (Dan/Harry Skelton) halfway up the run-in, and battled on well over the three-mile trip to win by one and a quarter lengths, to the delight of those who had backed the eight-year-old at an SP of 16/1.


Bass Rock (Sandy Thomson/Ryan Mania), who had taken the lead early in the straight, was headed only on the run-in, and weakened in the final 100 yards to be a creditable third, four and a half lengths behind the winner.

Dans Le Vent has done all his winning prior to this at shorter trips, but he was convinced to give the son of Skins Game – a Group 3-winning miler in France – another try as a stayer against his better judgment, as he explained with a wry smile.

“Dans Le Vent needs to be ridden that way and Isabel is a big part of it. I thought going up to three miles was stupid, but I’m a dinosaur and it’s a good job the kids are there to point me in the right direction.”