Turf Talk: First Flow sets course for Cheltenham Festival curtain-raiser

Trainer Kim Bailey. PIC: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire
Trainer Kim Bailey. PIC: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire
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TRAINER Kim Bailey feels First Flow deserves a crack at the Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham on Tuesday.

The six-year-old is unbeaten in three starts over jumps and completed a hat-trick with a dominant display in the Rossington Main Novices’ Hurdle at Haydock in January. Bailey was originally of a mind to sidestep Cheltenham and instead head for the Premier Kelso Novices’ Hurdle last Saturday.

Cheltenham racecourse.

Cheltenham racecourse.

However, that fixture was abandoned due to snow and although it has been rescheduled to take place this Sunday, Bailey has confirmed his charge will contest the Festival curtain-raiser.

He said: “He’s worked and schooled this morning and that went according to plan. Originally we were going to go to Kelso with him because the horse wants very soft ground. It was cancelled the other day and reopened yesterday and I didn’t put him in.

“I had a long chat with his owners and the forecast says they may get some rain at Cheltenham over the weekend and for the first race on the first day it will be at its softest. He has every right to be there.”

First Flow is one of four potential Cheltenham runners for a trainer who won the Champion Hurdle with Alderbrook and the Gold Cup with Master Oats in 1995.

Vinndication in winning action at Huntingdon last month. PIC: Tim Goode/PA Wire

Vinndication in winning action at Huntingdon last month. PIC: Tim Goode/PA Wire

Red River is on course for the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle, while Charbel holds entries in the Queen Mother Champion Chase and the Grand Annual.

A decision on whether the unbeaten Vinndication will contest the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle or the Albert Bartlett, or even sidestep the Festival altogether, will be made imminently. Bailey added: “Vinndication is a particularly nice horse and I was very happy with his work when he went to Lambourn. Horses like him don’t grow on trees – they’re very hard to find – and you don’t want to bottom them too early in their career.”


AYR: 1.50 Snougar, 2.20 Christmas In USA, 2.50 Dica, 3.25 What’s The Scoop, 4.00 Takingrisks, 4.30 More Madness, 5.05 Dedigout.

LEICESTER: 2.10 Bollin Ace, 2.40 Granville Island, 3.15 Myroundorurs, 3.50 Global Domination, 4.20 Numbercruncher, 4.55 Dontminddboys

NEWCASTLE: 5.45 Natch, 6.15 TEAM SHOWME (NAP), 6.45 Mr Potter, 7.15 Cookie Ring, 7.45 Zadorra, 8.15 Wiff Waff, 8.45 Santafiora.

SANDOWN: 2.00 Ar Mest, 2.30 No Hiding Place, 3.05 Cyrius Moriviere, 3.40 More Buck’s, 4.10 Red Devil Star (next best), 4.45 Sergeant Brody.