Kim Bailey has confirmed Vinndication firmly on course for the Ultima Handicap Chase at next month’s Cheltenham Festival.
Winner of his only bumper and unbeaten in three starts over hurdles, the seven-year-old was also successful on his first two appearances over fences last season, before finishing behind Defi Du Seuil in the Scilly Isles at Sandown and the JLT at Cheltenham.
He made a most impressive start to new campaign in the Sodexo Gold Cup at Ascot in early November – and while he has not been seen in competitive action since, Bailey reports his charge to be firing on all cylinders ahead of an intended return at Prestbury Park.
“He worked very well on Wednesday. We were delighted with that and he’s on course for the Ultima, all being well,” the trainer told Sky Sports Racing.
“He had a bone bruise over Christmas, which meant he wasn’t able to run in the race at Ascot just before Christmas.
“He’s been up with Jason Maguire on his water treadmill, which has done him the world of good, and we’re very happy with what we’ve seen since he’s come back. It’s all systems go.
“I think he’s got a lot of class. We were slightly disappointed he got beaten at Sandown last year, but he’s had a wind operation since then and we were only beaten a couple of lengths by Defi Du Seuil and Lostintranslation – it was a pretty good run really.
“He went to Cheltenham last year and made a couple of mistakes, which he has learnt from. The form of all his races has been good and he’s an out-and-out stayer with a bit of speed.”
Vinndication is one of several horses Bailey is considering for the showpiece meeting in the Cotswolds.
Two For Gold could earn himself a shot at either the RSA Chase or the National Hunt Chase with a prominent showing in the Reynoldstown Novices’ Chase at Ascot on Saturday, while Newtide is also in the mix for the National Hunt Chase after winning the Towton at Wetherby.
Bailey added: “Newtide is a nice horse. He’s got an entry for the National Hunt Chase, but he is a horse who definitely wants soft ground.
“We were lucky (at Wetherby), but having said that, we’ve still got to jump the fences and get round and it was a big difference from his run at Ffos Las – a different class of race – and I think there’s further improvement from that run.
“If conditions are right, he’ll run a big race if he goes to Cheltenham.”
The Champion Hurdle and Gold Cup-winning trainer confirmed Imperial Aura an intended runner in the Northern Trust Company Novices’ Handicap Chase, while Espoir De Romay will be considered for both the Coral Cup and the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Hurdle.