It is set to be a big weekend for owners Simon Munir and Isaac Souede, whose two-tone green colours will be in with a serious chance of being in the winner’s enclosure after all of the major contests.
Leading the way is Bristol De Mai, the well-backed favourite for the Betfair Chase at Haydock. However, there are any number of other exciting runners for the duo, not least L’Ami Serge in the Coral Hurdle at Ascot.
Anthony Bromley, racing manager for the owners and the man who sourced the likes of Kauto Star, Master Minded and Big Buck’s, speaks to us about a weekend to look forward to.
Let’s start with Bristol De Mai. How are things with him?
He’s looking well and his wellbeing is great. The ground’s come right for him and it’s his favourite track. He hasn’t won a Grade 1 in open company – although he has as a novice – and he’s up against Grade 1 winners. He’s quite a short favourite in quite a smart race, but he has to have a strong chance.
You must be excited to be associated with a horse of his calibre over fences again?
Absolutely. We’ve been lucky to be associated with a number of Grade 1 performers over the years with a number of trainers. For Mr Munir and Mr Souede it’s great for them to have chances in the big races. They’ve done well with their hurdlers previously, so it’s exciting they now have the same opportunities with chasers.
Speaking of good chasers, what do you expect from Footpad over fences this season?
We have big hopes. He has an entry in the Drinmore Novice Chase over 2m4f early next month, and it’s up to trainer Willie Mullins to decide if he goes there or elsewhere. He may even be kept fresh for the Racing Post Novice Chase at Leopardstown on December 26.
Were you always expecting Footpad to make such an effortless switch to chasing?
It’s been no surprise that he’s a good horse – he was fourth in a Champion Hurdle – but he always looked like he’d make a better chaser and fingers crossed that’s been the case so far and continues that way. His options are open in terms of which race he goes for at Cheltenham as well in March.
Looking back at the weekend, what is the thinking behind running L’Ami Serge in the Coral Hurdle at Ascot?
The idea is to try and build him back up to three miles over hurdles this winter, but Nicky Henderson wanted to start him over shorter as he can be quite free-running. To go straight to the Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury might not have suited him. He’s in good shape at home but I suspect Defi Du Seuil is also in top form as he’s been ready to run for a while. He’ll be a tough nut to crack as will Lil Rockerfeller. We just want a good, solid run to start off.
And Top Notch also runs at Ascot. What are you expecting from him?
Top Notch goes for the Christy 1965 Chase. He had a nice prep at Aintree and hopefully that’s put him spot on. I’m really excited to see him back over fences as he loves his jumping.
It must have been a difficult choice for retained rider Daryl Jacob as to where to ride this weekend?
It’s a real shame for Daryl as he really loves both the horses at Ascot; he’s won Grade 1s on both of them. He’s gutted he can’t be in two places at once and has taken the ride on Bristol De Mai at Haydock. We’ve got Nico de Boinville riding at Ascot though so that’s great news.
Finally on your weekend runners, what should we expect from El Terremoto at Haydock?
He’s won at the course and we think the heavy ground will be fine for him. We think it’s the right trip for him but he has gone up a lot for his win last time, so that makes life tough. He’s in great form and the owners will be at Haydock so I hope he runs well for them.
Sceau Royal was an easy winner of a two-runner novice chase this week. What is next for him?
It was a bloodless victory but it was just what the doctor ordered for that horse. It was a really good confidence booster. He did everything right at Cheltenham the time before and he just got chinned by North Hill Harvey, who was receiving 5lb. He loves jumping – he’s a fast, accurate jumper – and the idea is he’ll go for the Henry VIII Novices’ Chase at Sandown next month.
There seem to have been a few of these small-field novice chases recently. Do you think anything needs to be done about them?
Ultimately I still think it’s nice to go to a small meeting during the week and see a graded horse in action. I think the public like that too and not every race has to be an eight or ten runner contest. I’m not sure what the answer is, it’s arguable there’s too many open novice chases on this season, and I suspect there’s a happy medium between those races and novice handicaps.