Classy 'Bristol' set for Stratford return
As the covers continue to be taking off the jumping stars on both sides of the Irish Sea, Nigel Twiston-Davies is praying for rain to allow Bristol De Mai the opportunity to make his seasonal reappearance at Stratford on Saturday.
The six-year-old was a hugely impressive winner of the Peter Marsh Chase at Cheltenham in January, but disappointed in the Denman Chase at Newbury before finishing seventh in Gold Cup in March.
He was well beaten on his final start of the campaign at Aintree and could have his sights lowered in a two-mile-five-furlong handicap chase this weekend, providing conditions are suitable.
Twiston-Davies said: "We definitely need rain to run at Stratford, but there is rain about - it wants to be good to soft or soft. He is going to have a run, then he will go for the Betfair Chase at Haydock."
Twiston-Davies was pleased with Wholestone's comeback effort at Chepstow on Saturday. The six-year-old was favourite for the Silver Trophy and was beaten into fourth place, but the Naunton handler expects that run to leave him spot-on for Wetherby on November 4.
"That was fine. They walked early on then sprinted and that didn't quite suit him over two-three, but he ran a very good race," said the trainer.
"He will now go up to Wetherby for the West Yorkshire Hurdle. The step back up to three miles will suit him."
High-class hurdler Ballyandy made a successful start to his career over fences at Perth late last month, but will not be rushed back to the track. "We will look at something early in December," Twiston-Davies added.
Closer to home on the Flat, Adrian Keatley is looking forward to testing London Icon at Pattern level in Sunday's Killavullan Stakes at Leopardstown. The Elzaam colt was a highly promising third on his debut at the Curragh in August and the form has since been well advertised.
London Icon opened his account in impressive style at Naas earlier this month under Pat Smullen and will now step up to Group Three level. "We feel he's improved and he knows his job now," said Keatley. "His form is very good and he's definitely entitled to run in a Group Three at this stage.
"The ground will be on the easy side and he handled it in Naas. The ground never gets too bad in Leopardstown, so hopefully he'll be fine."
Of the 15 entries for the seven-furlong heat, Aidan O'Brien has seven contenders - including Bye Bye Baby, and Family Tree. Dermot Weld has two in Chiara Luna and Imaging, while Mcmunigal represents Ger Lyons.