Trainer Kim Bailey will give exciting novice hurdlers First Flow and Vinndication Cheltenham Festival entries, but both are far from guaranteed to get there.
The Thorndale Farm-handler has seen First Flow land Haydock’s Grade Two Sky Bet Supreme Trial Rossington Main Novices' Hurdle, while Vinndication has been impressive winning the Rosling King British EBF "National Hunt" Novices' Hurdle at Ascot and also Huntingdon's Sidney Banks Memorial Hurdle.
The proper winter types have had little racing but showed rapid progress to win at Grade One tracks as the months have gone on.
For First Flow, he first stepped foot on a racecourse in February 2017 but was too green to do himself justice. Big and weak, the six-year-old still needed the experience on seasonal debut for Bailey’s longest serving owner Tony Solomons best known for his association with graded chaser Harry Topper.
Fourth in that Chepstow bumper, it was over hurdles where he started to show his true colours- a discipline in which he is unbeaten in three starts.
In the last two of those, David Bass has made plenty of use of the son of Primary which has helped him learn rapidly.
“If it’s soft ground at the Cheltenham Festival we would have to think twice,” Bailey told www.cdhorseracingtours.com.
He continued: “Although I would be very surprised if he did go. He’s a nice horse and was impressive at Haydock.
“He’s not ready for the hustle and bustle of The Festival but he will have a Supreme (Novices’ Hurdle) entry.
“We started off riding him from the back of the field to take the freshness out of him and teach him what it’s all about. Since then, all he has done is improve.
“He will be an even better chaser,” he enthused.
While First Flow was taking in the way he stayed on grittily on the testing surface to win by 10 lengths, Vinndication was equally pleasing battling to beat JP McManus’ Champ.
Named after 20 times champion jockey AP McCoy, the hurdling debutant looked to be travelling better than the Gloucestershire raider in Ascot’s finale.
Both horses ran right to the line, but the Moremoneythan syndicate’s charge and the co-favourite of three relished the challenge to get his nose back in front.
The winning distance was a neck, but the five-year-old son of four-time Irish St Leger winner Vinnie Roe was value for more.
Achieving success with the younger brigade of horses is just the ticket for Bailey - and he even has the luxury of having strength in depth in that department.
He sends plenty of decent horses to Ludlow for their debuts and bumper winner Sea Story could be the next one to follow Vinndication’s lead.
Bailey said: “Vinndication will be entered for the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle at The Festival but he’s more likely to go to Aintree.
“We were unbelievably pleased at Ascot. He doesn’t really understand what he’s doing so he’s not a horse that needs to be going five lengths clear at the last.
“He’s very progressive. We liked him last year but he was very backward. If he runs at Cheltenham we would have to run him before as he wants more experience. And that will depend if we have enough time.”