First Flow handed Supreme Novices' challenge by Kim Bailey

Wed 7 Mar 2018

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By staff

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.

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Bailey was originally of a mind to sidestep Cheltenham and instead head for the Premier Kelso Novices' Hurdle last Saturday.

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.

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.

Leicester Races

The Gloucestershire handler told At The Races: "Vinndication is a particularly nice horse and I was very happy with his work yesterday 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.

"Red River is a more experienced horse (than Vinndication). He's a much more mature horse and we're very happy with him.

"He's a good-ground horse, so if we have a dry week I would have thought he'll get perfect conditions on the Friday.

"Charbel is a spring horse and I'm delighted with him. He has two entries at Cheltenham and he's more likely to go for the big one (Champion Chase) than the small one (Grand Annual)."

Bailey would love to add to his Festival tally, adding: "It's an exciting week for anyone who even turns up there. It's the best racing in the country and the best jump racing in the world.

"I can't wait for it. The nerves start to tingle and tangle quite quickly now. It's a worrying time for trainers and everybody, but it's also an exciting time.

"Any winner at Cheltenham, whatever they might be, means so much.

"It's a very top-heavy meeting now where your career is almost examined purely what happens at Cheltenham, which is quite strange, really. No other racecourse produces that."

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