First Flow All Set For Punchestown Festival Raid

First Flow

Leading trainer Kim Bailey is set to send his stable star First Flow over to Ireland for the Punchestown Festival with the Grade One Champion Steeplechase looking like his most likely target.

First Flow looks like the sole English raider to be heading to the Punchestown festival for this race, where it looks as though he will be taking on Cheltenham festival winners Allaho and Put The Kettle On, With Grade One winner Chacun Pour Soi also set to line up.

The nine year old has now won six of his last seven events over fences, with the gelding at the back end of last term going on to land a hat-trick of wins at Leicester, Doncaster and Carlisle and backing that up this term at Ascot twice and Wetherby.

His first run this season came at Ascot over two miles and he was a gritty winner of a decent handicap chase, coming from nearly last to see off Amoola Gold for Dan Skelton.

Put into another handicap next time out at Wetherby in treacherous conditions, he just did enough in the final stages to keep his unbeaten record going.

He headed into the Clarence Chase, with Bailey giving him his first ever chance in a Grade One and he deserved it after landing six straight events.

The gelding went into the race with a live place chance, but under a brave and superb ride by David Bass he went from the front and was not for catching, taking the event by seven lengths to give his handler his first Grade One success in over 25 years.

Off the back of that run it was all systems go for the Champion Chase at the Cheltenham festival and although giving a gallant run he was outclassed into sixth.

(Credit Racing Post) Bailey believes that getting him back to a right handed track will see him back to his best: "He's ready to go and we're heading out there, that's the plan," Bailey said.

"He didn't run at Aintree, so it's a good race for him. He seems to be heading in the right direction [at home]. At least it's the right way round, which will help him.

"I'm sure they'll do a phenomenal job with their watering. If the ground is like it was at Cheltenham that'll be fine."

Bailey has four entries for the Punchestown Festival, but First Flow will be his only representative across the five-day meeting, which starts on April 27th.