The winner of the hottest novice chase of the season so far could have earned himself a crack at Cheltenham’s Open meeting.
Kim Bailey is considering turning Charbel out again fairly quickly for the Arkle trial on November 13, a contest which might be hampered by the prospect of quick conditions.
While some might stay at home instead of travelling their brightest prospects to the Home of Jump Racing, the Andoversford trainer is keen to seize the day and make the six-year-old’s experience count.
Charbel downed the strong challenges from Le Prezien and Top Notch at Uttoxeter on October 28 - and all three are set to take high rank in their division this term.
“There’s every possibility Charbel will run in the Racing Post Arkle Trophy Trial November Novices´ Chase on the Sunday of The Open meeting,” Bailey told www.cdhorseracingtours.com.
“The timing is right, he has just started cantering again. He seems to have come out of his Uttoxeter run well and I was very pleased with him.
“We always thought he would make a better chaser than a hurdler as he was very weak and backward last year. He put in a very impressive performance the other day, jumping very well and you don’t win novice chases if you come up short in that department.
“Although he pitched on landing a bit at the last, he picked himself up, was quick away and battled on well.
“He was bought to run at Cheltenham (The Festival) and that’s where we hope to go with him.”
The noteworthy success just over a week ago was a welcome return to form for Bailey, who had been left frustrated with the performances of some of his string.
Several questioned whether the stable was under a cloud but Charbel’s win was their second in two days and other horses such as Robin The Raven and Vital Evidence have performed creditably in defeat.
Those could be the notes against The Last Samuri’s name after Saturday’s JNwine.com Champion Chase - unless he can cause an upset.
The gallant Grand National runner-up sets out for Down Royal on Thursday for an intriguing clash with dual King George winner Silviniaco Conti and 2016 Cheltenham Gold Cup third Don Poli.
“The Last Samuri has a big weekend ahead of him,” said Bailey.
“He’s not big enough to carry top weight in races like the Hennessy or Grand National and I don’t believe he is a Gold Cup horse, so we have to try and pinch one like this.
“He’s 10lb wrong with Silviniaco Conti and 2lb wrong with Don Poli, but our thinking behind it is the former isn’t getting any younger and the latter lacks a bit of speed. But realistically a place would be a good run.
“His season will be geared towards Aintree once again.”
It has felt more like Grand National season than autumn on the weather front and trainers up and down the country are the only folk praying for rain.
Softer going is needed for the National Hunt game and the dry spell has already wreaked havoc on Bailey’s preparations, with Charbel the only one to school on grass at home.
As such, burgeoning chaser Dueling Banjos might miss his opening engagement at Carlisle on Monday.
“He needs to school on grass, they all do,” Bailey added.
“We need rain. We can’t prepare them on hard ground.
“Dueling Banjos schooled at the end of last season on the all-weather in Lambourn and it went very well.
“He had a year over hurdles to grow into himself and was bought to go novice chasing.
“I hope he'll be a nice horse for the season."
Kim - Saturdays