Cheltenham countdown: Kim Bailey eager to run Charbel at Southwell on Friday

Thu 1 Mar 2018

By staff

Kim Bailey is hoping for respite from the freezing weather to allow him to get Charbel to Southwell for his final public appearance on Friday ahead of the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase at Cheltenham.

Charbel is one of three horses the Gloucestershire trainer has declared for the the jumpers' bumpers card at the Nottinghamshire all-weather venue, which was added to the fixture list because of the cold snap.

Charbel's last race came in the Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown in December when he was fourth to Politologue.

Bailey had been looking at a racecourse gallop for Charbel after he withdrew him from the Clarence House Chase at Ascot in January as the ground was too soft, but was pleased the opportunity of a run came up in this seven-race card, with all contests over two miles.

Charbel, who fell at the second-last when leading eventual winner Altior in the Arkle Trophy at last year's Festival, has just the three rivals in the Rolleston 'Jumpers' Bumper 'National Hunt Flat Race.

"It's either that or take him for a racecourse gallop. We thought we'd go there as the grass will be not be much good for the next few days," said Bailey. "We might not get there, though, if the forecast is correct. It was forecast to be bad on Thursday afternoon.

"Everything's absolutely spot-on at the moment with him ahead of Cheltenham."

Donald McCain does not envisage travel problems for his team of five making the 195-mile round trip from his base at Malpas in Cheshire.

Ludlow Races

His squad consists of Swashbuckle, Volcanic, Man Look, Good Tradition and Fin And Game.

"There are horses waiting to run. We've not got massive expectations. It's getting them a run," he said. "We don't seem to have the worst of the weather over here. I've spoken to Southwell to make the sure the last bit of the journey is OK, so hopefully we'll be fine.

"There's a couple who've been waiting for a run for a while and some who haven't run for a while and having first runs back.

"This is an opportunity for them to run. It's grand and we'll use it."

Southwell clerk of the course Roderick Duncan does not anticipate any serious issues on the roads to the track.

"I currently don't see any problems," he said. "We are advising people to come in from Southwell and not on the back lanes because we've kept Racecourse Lane, the road we have, open and the main roads are all clear.

"It gives National Hunt horses a chance to get out."

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