A double at Southwell marked a terrific achievement for Caroline Bailey and her yard that averages around a dozen winners per season.
She has her horses in tip-top shape with a string of placed finishes in recent weeks. The victories also formed part of a wonderful treble for in-form jockey Harry Skelton.
Bailey had plenty of success when training point-to-pointers before her switch to rules in 2006. She had guided Castle Mane to victory in the Foxhunters at Cheltenham back in 1999, and also trained Gunner Welburn to take Aintree’s equivalent in 2001. Her husband Gerald has taken charge of the yard’s pointers, along with the substantial task of running his own dairy farm.
Caroline is yet another that was very much born into the industry. Her father, the late Dick Saunders, rode as an amateur, winning the 1982 Grand National aboard Grittar at the age of 48. Her mother was also a competent jockey, riding in point to points. As a teenager Caroline found success in eventing before starting out in pointing at the age of 16.
Her stables, which were originally old farm buildings, form part of Holdenby North Lodge, situated in the Northamptonshire countryside, close to the villages of Teeton and Holdenby. The facilities are basic, as befits a yard lacking the financial clout of a Skelton or a Nicholls. Yet Bailey has the essentials which enable the smaller set-up to compete against the ‘big boys’.
A three furlong all-weather cushion track gallop is a necessity when the winter frosts arrive. There is also a one-and-a-half mile uphill grass run, perfect for fitness and strengthening work. Hurdles along with small and large fences are available for schooling, and a horse walker is used for warming up and warming down, along with light exercise for those on the ‘easy list’.
Bailey’s assistant trainer gets a big mention on her website. Tom McClorey was a talented show-jumper in his youth, and his skill in coaching horses to jump is clearly a huge advantage for the yard.
Those talents were certainly on display with the success of Global Domination at Southwell. The horse was having only his third run in almost three years and only his second over fences. Bar guessing at a fence on the second circuit, his jumping was incredibly neat and professional. With Skelton on top, the seven-year-old gelding jumped his opposition to sleep, and although appearing to tire close home, ran out a comfortable winner. If staying sound, he clearly has plenty more to offer over fences.
The five-year-old Carlo Rocks completed the double when winning the three mile handicap hurdle. Benefitting from a step up in trip, he pricked his ears when sent to the front, and looked to be idling all the way to the line. He’s another that plainly has the ability to find his way to the winners’ enclosure again over the winter.
Carli King was something of a star for the yard last season, with two victories and two placed finishes from his six starts. His most impressive performance came at Warwick in March when winning the 3m 5f handicap chase. That success earned him a crack at the Scottish National, though a couple of serious errors when going well put paid to his efforts that day. Though now a nine-year-old, he should remain competitive in staying events on his return.
Bailey enjoys sending her horses to Huntingdon, and has several entered up at the track this weekend. She’ll be more than hopeful of building on the team’s success at Southwell.