NH season preview: Kim Bailey

Sustained support from Paul and Clare Rooney, Julie and David Martin plus a first horse for longstanding racing supporter Diana Whateley give Kim Bailey's team plenty of optimism for the season ahead.

From a yard which boasts its own 'gallops cam' backing up the trainer's award-winning blog, plenty of horses will be sent out to add to the current haul of 1,198 successes.

Bailey has been nestled in the Cotswolds since 2006, but has been training far longer and maintains his focus on giving each horse the individual care they need.

Young prospects slowly bloom as they compete on the track and racegoers will struggle to find better turned out horses with their trademark nosebands and shiny coats.

Charbel and The Last Samuri have been leading lights for the stable in recent seasons, the former putting it up to highly talented Altior in the Arkle before falling and the latter's brave 2016 Grand National second were races to savour.

Charbel is due to start his campaign in a graduation chase at Kempton or Wetherby in the first week of November while his stablemate is set to continue his love for the unique demands of Aintree in the Becher Chase.

Waiting in the wings to follow in their illustrious footsteps are these five quality prospects who could pay their way in the winter months:

RHAEGAR
A half-brother to 142-rated chaser Stellar Notion and the first horse to be sent to Andoversford by Diana Whateley.
Well known in racing circles for her dedication to the sport and owning the smart chasers Menorah and Captain Chris (both now retired), the owner has been patient with this son of Milan.
Already six when he made a winning debut in a Warwick bumper in May, after missing three previous engagements, he could make a nice novice hurdler. The Bailey yard have a guide to the form of his only race as they train the third El Presente too. Rhaegar cost 110,000 Euros as a three-year-old and could be anything.

What the trainer says: "He has taken a lot of time and we have had to be very patient with him. Hopefully he'll be a nice novice hurdler."

JOHNNY OCEAN
Not a name National Hunt enthusiasts will know as of yet as David and Julie Martin's recruit is only just getting into the routine at Bailey's stable. Their star turn Charbel was already back in training as this point-to-point winner from the immediate family of Black Hercules, Indian Scout and Monksland was doing road work following his summer break. Due to be consigned by Colin Motherway at the Goffs UK Aintree Sale, the Martins took the plunge for Johnny Ocean and bought him privately before he entered the ring. Charbel cost 280,000 Euros and the Martins are not afraid to invest in the hope they will unearth another star.

What the trainer says: "I knew he was coming to me when they bought him. We hope he's an exciting one."

DUELING BANJOS
It was thought he could replicate sterling work over hurdles in his first season chasing as his frame suggested, but it started on the wrong footing when he fell at the first fence on debut in November. That was at Ascot and the incident left jockey David Bass nursing a fractured cheekbone. The grey finally got it all together at Ffos Las in March when he lasted home by a neck at short odds. Beating the once highly-touted West Wizard who moved to Sophie Leech thereafter was nothing out of the ordinary, but as a result he finds himself on a mark of 130 for the new season. This is 7lb lower than his exploits over the smaller obstacles where at times he ran in some decent fields. The yard spent some of last season under a cloud and with the combination of the Gloucestershire-bred gelding taking time to get used to fences, he could well improve markedly this campaign. Surely must be well handicapped and still only seven, so there are better days to come. He has the raw ability to scoop a decent prize.

What the trainer says: "He took a while to get over his fall at Ascot. He does jump well. He's capable and has been a bit unlucky."

BLAZON
Unusual inmate in that he was bred by Juddmonte Farms sired by Dansili and he put that pedigree to good use by winning a bumper on Lingfield's all-weather in December. Three lengths back in third that day was Dan Skelton's Hatcher, a horse that has gone on to win two bumpers after a break. Thought capable of defying a penalty, Blazon was pitched into a useful looking race at Huntingdon and went down fighting by a neck. The winner Maria's Benefit has already debuted over hurdles when looking like she would come on significantly for the experience and Bailey's charge should be sharp enough to do better. In pre-training with Juddmonte, the four-year-old continues to show promise at home and may give The Blazing Optimists some fun outings.

What the trainer says: "He has a promising future. This horse has lots of ability and he's one I like a lot."

CHAMPAGNE TO GO
In 20 years of ownership, John Perriss has enjoyed having multiple horses in training at any one time including the admirable Emily Gray, Bailey's first winner in Ireland when taking a Grade Three mares' chase in March 2016. This particular mare was reponsible for the owner's first double at Wetherby when scoring on her initial appearance for Bailey the following month. Still a maiden over hurdles after four attempts, she was sent off favourite for all but one of them. Mia's Storm (went on to win a Class Two handicap on Swindon Hurdle day) and Poppy Kay (narrowly beaten in the Challenger Mares' Handicap Hurdle Series Final) took two of the races where Champagne To Go was ultimately disappointing. Finishing rather tamely, her season was cut short in December and she has clearly needed more time. If the key can be found to unlock her potential (and she has already looked good schooling), there should be a victory coming her way.

What the trainer says: "She is better than she has shown so far and should have a handicap in her."


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