Racehorse trainer Kim Bailey’s horses to follow: ‘There are few in training as tough as First Flow’


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  • Successful National Hunt trainer Kim Bailey on the impact of a hot summer and his horses to watch for the new season ahead

    IT has been a long, hot summer, which has been difficult for both Flat racing and jumping, as the fast ground has dramatically reduced the field sizes. It doesn’t make for good viewing and it’s not good for punters, racecourses or trainers.

    Frankly, this summer might have been the start of its death knell and the sport needs to address the problem before it’s too late.

    When I started my training career, there was no summer jumps racing. There have been calls to introduce a summer break as many staff, even jockeys, struggle to have days away from the sport. It is time to realise that welfare now comes into the equation and a healthy break of six weeks would do us all some good – as well as revitalising the sport.

    Like many equestrian sports, racing struggles to employ enough staff to look after the horses. One of the main reasons is the anti-social hours and lack of time off. I am lucky to have a full quota of staff. I believe that is because I have a video on my website, which shows what working in a racing yard actually involves. Promotional videos are plentiful when it comes to explaining the benefit of having a horse trained by said trainer, but without staff, that just will not work.

    A late start this season

    I have added new horses to our team from this summer’s sales. I love buying unbroken three-year-olds and enjoy watching them develop, but I look for horses with the stamp of a chaser, who are probably not suited to quicker summer ground, so it has been frustrating not having any significant rain. But we have to train our horses with the view that we are ready when it rains.

    I always try to have a batch ready for the first weekend of October, but this year I have put the handbrake on. It looks like most will be ready for the first weekend in November instead.

    There is nothing more depressing than looking at the many weather apps on my phone – I love whichever one predicts the weather I want – and then calling various racecourses for their views on future ground conditions.

    However, when the rain does have an impact, we have some lovely horses to follow, so it should be exciting.

    Horses to follow

    Starting with some old favourites, Two For Gold – who had such an exciting run in this year’s Grand National – could head back to Aintree in November to run in the Sefton Chase.

    Two For Gold ridden by David Bass in the 2022 Grand National

    Two For Gold, ridden here by David Bass in the 2022 Grand National, could return to Aintree in November. Credit: AFP via Getty Images

    Happygolucky, who won at Aintree 18 months ago and missed last season, could go to the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby. Meanwhile, Imperial Aura – who did not have a great season last year, but has had a back operation during the summer – will probably have a confidence-boosting warm-up over hurdles before returning to fences. He is a talented horse when things are right.

    The wonderfully named Bobhopeornohope had a good season. I am sure this campaign we will find some suitable races to add to his tally. The same should be said for Does He Know who, after a cracking season last winter, might find handicap company much tougher than small novice chases he won last season. He could start at Kelso at the end of the month.

    One of my favourite horses, First Flow, will head to his beloved Ascot and probably Huntingdon to try to repeat last year’s win in the Peterborough Chase. He loves soft ground and a right-handed track, so his options off his high handicap mark are difficult. But there are few horses in training as tough as him.

    Of the younger and less exposed horses, Flirtatious Girl and Time For Hollie will be seen in mares hurdles, while Top Target, Chianti Classico, Mikhailovich and the English points winner Salt Rock will be worth watching over hurdles.

    In the novice chase department, we’re looking forward to running Trelawne, Kyntara and French import Mot Pour Mot, while of my babies, who could start in bumpers, Tregele, Magical Escape, Arctic Saint and Undercover Lover are particularly exciting.

    A supportive jockey

    David Bass remains as stable jockey; he works hard and supports us to the hilt. The vegan part-time drummer, who picked up a spare ride on the appropriately named Crazy Jack at Towcester in 2014, has been stuck with me ever since. However much we might disagree, we remain firmly entrenched when it comes to riding my horses.

    Ciaran Gethings is another who helps out – I firmly believe in helping those who help me and, as I have said so many times, you are only as good as those you employ.

    I hope you find the odd winner out of these horses during the coming winter months. We will have fun when we start to have regular runners. Remember, racing should be fun and winning is what it is all about.

    • This exclusive column will also be available to read in Horse & Hound magazine, on sale Thursday 20 October

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