Bailey upbeat about prospects for 2018 National Hunt season

A promising cluster of young horses have already started to live up to expectations for the Kim Bailey team as the new National Hunt season starts to begin in earnest.

Fresh from a campaign which was full of promise, partly thanks to a crack team of novice hurdlers, the Andoversford yard has soared to a 38 per cent strike rate in the last fortnight.

Owners David and Julie Martin have already enjoyed plenty of big days with Darna (2015 Brown Advisory and Merriebelle Stable Plate winner) and Charbel (ran at the last three Chetenham Festivals) and they might have unearthed another graded performer in Minella Warrior.

Purchased for £180,000 from Goffs two years ago as a replacement for the owners’ Festival hero, the six-year-old has taken time to find his feet but impressed many in a Uttoxeter novices’ hurdle on September 23.

Runner-up to the smart Kalashnikov when sent off favourite for a bumper in March 2017, he then had 407 days off the track before making a winning start over hurdles and this 130-rated individual should make an even better chaser in time.

Commodore Barry is another whose future lies over the bigger obstacles and he was the stable’s second winner in the recent purple patch, which has also featured three seconds.

Conditional Hugh Nugent took the reins for Bailey for the first time and after learning about the horse during a visit to the Cotswolds, he rode the son of Presenting confidently to win by a neck.

It was the jockey’s first victory in his current role and he may end up with a few more to ride as new employee Ben Love will be sidelined for around two months with a broken elbow.

Commodore Barry is expected to have a good season novice handicap chasing, a sphere in which Wandrin Star has already shown his hand with a facile 22-length triumph at Bangor under Mikey Hamill.

Penny Perriss, an enthusiastic supporter of this yard with her husband John, owns the seven-year-old whose handicap mark is expected to get a fair hike from a mark of 113.

Fearing the reaction from the assessor, Bailey wanted to run the seven-year-old again quickly, but with little rain around he admitted he may have to be patient.

That is the case for many of the National Hunt yards, as trainers are not willing to risk their best prospects on fast ground so early on in the season.

A novice chase on October 4 was gifted to one runner as the other two were pulled out and it will be a waiting game for several here too.

The unbeaten Vinndication missed the 2018 Festival with sore shins and he needs some juice in the ground, along with Grade Two Haydock Rossington Main hero First Flow.

Red River, who ended the winning run of Nicky Henderson’s talented Mr Whipped at Musselburgh, is the third shining star from last season ready to make an impact when the weather changes.

“Last season was our second best since we have been here,” Bailey told

“We have a really good bunch of horses at the moment and I’m really excited about them. Ninety per cent are aged seven or younger.

“This coming winter we have so much to look forward to. Many of last season’s novice hurdlers will go chasing and our winning and placed bumper horses will go hurdling.

“We only ran two four-year-olds last season, most of them will probably start off in bumpers.

“We bought ten unbroken three-year-old youngsters from various sales this summer, some of which might run in the spring. They certainly look exciting.”

Five interesting horses to follow for the season ahead:  

Alfie Corbitt
2013 bay gelding by Arakan x Millanymare
Form: 331-
The first horse Highclere Thoroughbred Racing have had in training with Bailey and this good-looking son of Arakan was Jim Culloty’s last winner in a point-to-point. In his earlier race, he finished in the frame behind a Joseph O’Brien-trained individual who was sold for £410,000. Enjoys soft ground and his owners hope he will turn out to be good enough for Cheltenham.
What the trainer says: “We are very much looking forward to seeing him start his career in the autumn, probably going straight over hurdles on soft ground.”

Arthur’s Sixpence
2014 bay gelding by Vinnie Roe x Loose Change
Form: 12-
From the same sire as top novice Vinndication and a new horse for one of his owners Darren Smith among others, this recruit will begin life in a bumper. Already a winner of a point-to-point and second in his only other start, he has plenty of scope and is a real National Hunt horse for the season ahead.
What the trainer says: “He was bought privately in the spring and after a good summer’s grass, has come back in a much bigger and stronger horse. We look forward to seeing him progress.”

He’s No Trouble
2013 bay gelding by Scorpion x She’s No Trouble
Form: 1-
The first horse purchased by the second Jockey Club South West Syndicate and fittingly, has links to Cheltenham in his pedigree.
His dam is a full-sister to 2000 Gold Cup winner Looks Like Trouble, while the new recruit's sire is Scorpion, who was responsible for the 2018 runner-up in The Festival's biggest race, Might Bite.
He's No Trouble was a three-length winner of a maiden at Dromahane on April 22. Bailey, Nicky Henderson and Neil Mulholland each have a horse for the partnership, which lasts for two seasons before the horses go to the sales.
What the trainer says: “We are delighted to have our first horse for this syndicate. We hope to start him off at one of the earlier Cheltenham meetings and he is a very nice horse with a big future.”

Illuminated Beauty
2013 bay mare by Flemensfirth x Native Beauty
Form: P-21
Emily Gray was the trainer’s first winner in Ireland for owner John Perriss and this is could be another smart mare for connections.
Bought for £55,000 from Tattersalls Cheltenham, where He’s No Trouble came from too, the five-year-old impresses with the winners in her pedigree.
Like Emily Gray, she appears tough and likeable. A career over hurdles awaits this season.
What the trainer says: “It would be nice to think she may be good enough to run in the Mares’ Hurdle Final in March at Newbury.”

Two For Gold
2013 bay gelding by Gold Well x Two Of Each
Form: 161-
Displayed a decent turn of foot to win his first bumper before finishing sixth in what looked a quality Listed bumper at Ascot in December.
The race was won by Didtheyleaveyououtto, who was fancied for the Festival bumper.
The runner-up Bullionaire is highly regarded by the Harry Fry team as is Fergal O’Brien’s Strong Glance, a nice hurdling prospect for this season.
Two For Gold belied his odds of 40/1 to be beaten around 10 lengths and went on to carry a penalty to victory at Doncaster.
Ran very green when he hit the front so it looks like there is plenty of improvement to come for the same connections of former stable stalwart The Rainbow Hunter.
What the trainer says: “He is a very exciting horse who jumps very well and we look forward to seeing how far he might go over hurdles.”

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