Back in August, I flagged up 2 of Kim Bailey's horses to watch, both of which ran with distinction over the weekend.
On Saturday, Vinndication sought to put himself in contention for the Gold Cup in March in the first of the established big races of the season - the Bet365 Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby. A gallant second to Cyrname by 2 lengths, which in truth could have been more, has done no harm to his rating, but it would need a few to fall by the wayside for Vinndication to be seen as a leading fancy for Gold Cup honours. Some hesitant jumping early on, and a flat spot four out when he needed to kick on, might show that he could sharpen for the run.
That said, horses from Foxcote are showing a clean pair of heels to most at present. Imperial Aura, the other of my two to watch, returned triumphant from Carlisle on Sunday, the second of two winners for the Bailey yard, the other at Huntingdon. The Colin Parker Intermediate Chase is a valuable listed event over 2m 4f, and a logical stepping stone to races like the Peterborough at Huntingdon later this month. Bailey has him entered for next week's Paddy Power, but off topweight, that might be a tall ask.
In a blog for Cocklebarrowraces.com earlier last week, I remarked that the Ravenswell winner machine had ground to a halt, with no winner in 14 days. Happily, Fergal is back on track, with a Bumper winner at Carlisle, and Bathiva, Irish Point-to-Point winner, opening his account for the season in good style in the Macer Gifford Handicap Chase at Huntingdon. Let's hope the interlude was just a mid autumn breather.
Not to be done down, Graeme McPherson produced a valuable Bumper winner at Ascot in Marble Sands on Saturday under Lilly Pinchin, for whom winning is getting quite a habit.
Meantime, Pointing's third fixture of the season was successfully cioncluded for the Kimblewick at Kimble. However, lockdown countdown clocks are already ticking, and it looks like the early season fixtures in November will be deferred.
Going for Sunday April 3 - Good (Thursday)
6m SE Cheltenham, nr junction of A40 and A436 (Exit 11A, M5)