Kim Bailey gives his Cheltenham runners debrief and outlines end of season targets

Kim Bailey

Although not having a winner at this year's Cheltenham festival, trainer Kim Bailey was happy with the way his horses went about their business and now he he is looking ahead to the other spring festivals.

One of the main runners across the week at Cheltenham was his Grade One winner First Flow who ran in the Champion Chase and having beaten six and a half lengths by Put The Kettle On, Bailey is now looking to forward to going back right-handed with the Clarence House chase winner.

This brings in the possibility of seeing the gelding going across the pond to Ireland for the Punchestown festival, with Sandown at the end of the jumps season also on the agenda.

(Credit ATR) “He will go, if the ground is suitable, for either the Celebration Chase or to Punchestown. He has improved so much this season and seems a bit more versatile with the ground,” said Bailey.

“If the Champion Chase was run at Ascot, he would have won. David (Bass) struggled to steer him around Cheltenham and he really struggled to handle the bends there, but that was always going to be the worry we had.

“At one point down the back straight it looked as though he was going to be pulled up, so how he has got back to finish where he did in sixth I don’t know, but it was a fantastic effort.”

With Bailey sending one of his strongest line ups to this years Cheltenham festival and leaving with no winners you would think that he would be underwhelmed but overall he was positive about how his horses ran.

In the Stayers’ Hurdle he was happy by the performances of Vinndication (sixth) and Younevercall (eighth) and has outlined the plans for the former.

Bailey said: “If you take all the Irish runners out of the race, he was second to Paisley Park! The problem with him is he jumps most of his hurdles like fences and that has happened as most of his schooling has been over fences, which he will be going back over next season.

“There is nothing to really run him in over fences and I think it would be too tight for him over fences at Aintree. The only other race is the bet365 Gold Cup, but he won’t be going for that, so he will go for the three-mile hurdle at Aintree.”

For the latter he added: “The plan is to go for the Sandown race he won two years ago. He ran a smashing race in the Stayers’ Hurdle. Half-way down the hill we started to get a bit excited.”

His best finisher of the week was Happygolucky who had to settle for second for the Ultima Handicap Chase after being well backed into 3/1 favourite before the off and he could run in either a handicap or Grade One over three miles at Aintree.

As for the disappointment of the week, Imperial Aura in the Ryanair Chase ran no sort of race at all and it has been revealed that there were excuses for that.

“Unfortunately Imperial Aura broke a blood vessel in the Ryanair and he will now be roughed off for the season,” said Bailey.

“He was out of his comfort zone from the word go, but I think even if he was on song he wouldn’t have won that race as they went so fast. I think we will probably look to step him up in trip to three miles next year.”