Kim Bailey Cheltenham Festival runners – Some big guns feature in local trainer’s Festival team
Kim Bailey Cheltenham Festival runners
The name of Kim Bailey has been around Cheltenham Festival folklore for some years ever since Alderbrook and Master Oats gave the Gloucestershire trainer a big race double during the 1995 Festival. Following a spell in the wilderness the yard has been resurgent in recent seasons and go to this year’s greatest show on turf with some live chances of further success. We highlight a few Kim Bailey Cheltenham Festival runners who can give a good account of themselves over the four days.
It seems so long ago since Kim Bailey landed the Champion Hurdle and Gold Cup in the same year and the once-powerful yard that rivalled the likes of Nicky Henderson and Martin Pipe for some reason dwindled over time.
However recent seasons has seen a real resurgence in the yard with an ever-growing tally of winners which includes 47 during the 2020/21 season at the time of writing. And the yard have a couple of live chances of adding further Festival success to the record this campaign where they are likely to send out a few runners over the course of the week.
We’ve picked out a few of the likely Kim Bailey Cheltenham Festival runners who could give a good account of themselves over the course of the four days of the greatest show on turf.
Kim Bailey Cheltenham runners on day one
Ultima Handicap Chase
Plans remain fluid for Bailey’s VINNDICATION who holds entries in the Stayers’ Hurdle and the Cheltenham Gold Cup, but having finished fourth in this race twelve months ago the Vinne Roe gelding may yet be lined up for another crack at the competitive handicap chase on Cheltenham day one.
A classy chaser at his best and a dual-winner as a novice before finishing fifth to Defi Du Seuil in the then JLT Novices’ Chase, he’s been lightly raced since with just four runs in the past couple of seasons and he was only beaten three lengths in this race last term behind the ill-fated The Conditional where he led over the last but was passed on the run-in and he weakened close home to just finish off the podium.
Only beaten two lengths in the Charlie Hall Chase on his return he was still travelling quite well when unseating David Bass at the 17th in the Ladbrokes Trophy Chase at Newbury and he was reported lame post-race.
He’s gone well fresh in the past so lack of a run since might not be a huge disadvantage in this competitive contest but he could again be anchored by a big burden given his 160 rating is likely to see him head the weights again and the handicapper likely has him in his grip.
Nevertheless the tough and consistent performer would likely give supporters another big run for their money if taking his chance.
National Hunt Chase
HAPPYGOLUCKY holds entries for this race and the renamed RSA Chase on day two of the Festival, however this looks a more likely target for the Jeremy gelding who is 2-3 over fences this term which includes a course win over The Mighty Don back in December.
The low-mileage sort finished fourth in last season’s Martin Pipe Hurdle where he was only beaten around three lengths to cap a fine season that had seen him win at Stratford and register successive bronze medal finishes in pair of Grade Two contests behind Thyme Hill and Enrilo respectively.
Switched to chasing this term he’s registered wins at Stratford and here either side of a defeat at Fakenham where the tight turns appeared to put him ill at ease behind Getaway Trump.
Despite not always being fluent at his obstacles and hanging left after the last and on the climb to line he had enough in reserve to hold off his rivals and there’s likely better still to come although the stiffer test of this contest will surely test his stamina.
This may be a slightly more realistic level however than the likely hugely competitive nature of the Wednesday race and he may well pitch up in this contest in preference.
Kim Bailey Cheltenham day two runners
FIRST FLOW was always a very smart chaser, winning four of his eight starts over the larger obstacles last term and he’s continued the winning trend into this season where he’s 3-3 which includes a first Grade One victory in the Clarence House Chase.
The bold-jumping Primary gelding doesn’t like to hang about and he had largely dominated opposition in handicaps including the Castleford Chase at Wetherby before being thrust into that Ascot Grade One where he took on reigning Champion Chase winner Politologue and the high-class Waiting Patiently.
Despite such lofty opposition he did the job well with a seven lengths’ victory, travelling well and jumping soundly throughout for a comfortable success and he will head to the Cheltenham Festival day two feature with a live chance despite clashing with the likes of Chacun Pour Soi and Altior.
There would be a slight concern over the possible ground come race-time as he’s been at his best in proper testing ground and if the ground were to dry out significantly he might just find a couple too quick for him.
Kim Bailey Cheltenham Festival day three runners
Pertemps Network Final
It might be flying too high with the entry for the Stayers’ Hurdle with YOUNEVERCALL who and it wouldn’t be a shock to see the Yeats gelding take in this race having qualified at Kempton on his reappearance back in November.
A progressive stayer in past seasons, finishing eighth to Paisley Park in the 2018 Long Walk Hurdle he accounted for On The Blind Side at Sandown the following April in the Select Hurdle but shaped as if amiss next time at Ascot which prompted a lengthy absence.
Just touched off at Kempton on his return he finished seven lengths’ fourth to Paisley Park in the latest Long Walk Hurdle but subsequently failed to fire when pulled up behind McFabulous in the Relkeel Hurdle and on those efforts he’d surely be up against it in the Stayers’ Hurdle so this race looks a more suitable contest.
He’s certainly not out of things on past form assuming he’s not harshly treated by the assessor and he could prove a live each-way contender for those tempted with a Cheltenham free bet to have a nibble on Kim Bailey’s charge in what is usually a competitive and wide open contest.
IMPERIAL AURA took top honours at the Cheltenham Festival twelve months ago when beating Galvin in the Listed Northern Trust Chase, scoring by four lengths and the Kalanisi gelding has continued his progression into a top-class chaser this term where he’s won two of his three starts including the Grade Two Chanelle Pharma 1965 Chase.
Sent off favourite for the Silviniaco Conti Chase at Kempton over Christmas he was an early casualty where a bad mistake saw him eject David Bass from the saddle. That was the first time he’d failed to complete over fences but trainer and jockey have been happy that mishap was just a blip and he’ll be back to his best come the day three Cheltenham Festival feature race.
He’s looked a top-class prospect in his two wins previously, easily brushing aside Itchy Feet by five lengths at Ascot and he looks sure to play a big part if none the worse for making that error last time. With proven versatility over ground having won on good through to heavy conditions he’s not hard to make a big case for as a likely winner and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see a big run from him.
Kim Bailey day four Cheltenham Festival runners
Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle
BOBHOPEORNOHOPE could represent the Bailey yard in the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle on day four of the Festival where the Westerner gelding would be bidding to bounce back from a lesser run in soft ground at Doncaster when contesting the Grade Two River Don Hurdle.
The lightly-raced sort won his first two starts over hurdles at Exeter and Doncaster respectively on better ground and over a shorter trip so he’s not sure to be suited by the conditions at the Festival where the ground may be softer than ideal, while he’s not sure to be benefitted by the longer trip despite having won a point-to-point.
He’d have to step up markedly on what he’s done to date if he were to feature in this Grade One and it wouldn’t be a surprise if he were kept instead for Aintree where the prospect of better ground and a flatter track might suit him better.
Elsewhere, one or both of Vinndication and Imperial Aura could still head to the Cheltenham Gold Cup on day four of the Festival where both are priced at 50/1 and bigger so it would be no surprise to see them take in alternative targets rather than the ‘Blue Riband’ this year.