Not many horses will start off their racing career in the UK in a Grade 1 race, so Nigel Twiston-Davies clearly thought a lot of Bristol De Mai when aiming him at the Grade 1 Finale Juvenile Hurdle at Chepstow on December 27, 2014. He had been bought by Munir and Souede just two months earlier.
Bristol De Mai didn’t disappoint, overcoming traffic in the latter stages to win by six lengths from the Alan King-trained Karezak, with the likes of Baron Alco and Golden Doyen further behind.
The four-year-old would then be turned over in Open Listed company at Sandown and again in a novice Grade 2 field at Kelso before running a brilliant race to finish third in the Grade 1 Anniversary 4-Y-O Juvenile Hurdle at Aintree, behind All Yours of Paul Nicholls and Devilment for the John Ferguson team.
Instead of attempting a Champion Hurdle tilt, Bristol De Mai went novice chasing, winning on his second start over fences and was only beaten by runaway front-runner Ar Mad in the Grade 1 Henry VIII Novices’ Chase at Sandown in December 2015.
After a simple success at Leicester, he took Grade 2 honours under retained rider Daryl Jacob at his beloved Haydock, pummelling his rivals into submission with a blistering jumping display which saw him win by 32 lengths.
In February 2016, he would claim a second Grade 1 prize, putting his experience and high cruising speed to good use by seeing off As De Mee and future Grade 1 winner Tea For Two in the Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase at Sandown.
That meant he would go off a warm 4/1 co-favourite for the JLT Novices’ Chase at the 2016 Cheltenham Festival, alongside Garde La Victoire and Irish raider Black Hercules, trained by Willie Mullins. It was the latter who would come out on top as Bristol De Mai could only stay on for a three-length second on unusually quick ground for the Festival.
Bristol De Mai’s sophomore season over fences in 2016/2017 wasn’t as spectacular as he won just a solitary race - the Peter Marsh Chase at Haydock - in what proved to be a frustrating year for owner and trainers. However, his 2017/18 campaign would be his best yet.
With 2015 Gold Cup winner Coneygree and multiple Grade 1 winner Cue Card in the field, Bristol De Mai was a relatively unfancied 6/1 to win on seasonal reappearance in the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby. But after a prolonged battle with stablemate Blaklion on soft ground, Bristol De Mai pulled out more to win by half a length.
A month later in November 2017, Bristol De Mai simply pulverised the likes of Cue Card, Outlander and Tea For Two in the Betfair Chase at Haydock. In filthy conditions at the Lancashire track he made all under Daryl Jacob to win by no less than 57 lengths, a record winning margin for a Grade 1 event.
Bristol De Mai attempted to follow that incredible performance up in the King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day, but could only finish a tailed-off sixth behind new steeplechasing superstar Might Bite, and was beaten by the same foe in April 2018 at Aintree in the Betway Bowl.
The 2018/19 season saw Bristol De Mai again win the Grade 1 Betfair Chase in a brilliant field containing King George winners Might Bite and Thistlecrack as well as the 2018 Gold Cup winner Native River and Clan Des Obeaux.
However, yet again he struggled to convert Haydock brilliance into Kempton success, falling at the sixth fence when in midfield in the King George VI Chase on December 26, 2018.