Kim Bailey believes Vinndication is capable of filling a glaring omission on his CV by giving him a first victory in the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury on Saturday week.
The Andoversford handler, speaking in front of the media at Tuesday’s Ladbrokes Winter Carnival gallops morning at the track, hinted the Grade Three prize is likely to be the next target for the eight-year-old – who found only Cyrname too strong on his return in the Charlie Hall at Wetherby.
Having won a Grand National, Gold Cup and Champion Hurdle, Bailey has only placed in the Grade Three heat – with Mr Frisk and Docklands Express finishing third in 1989 and 1991 respectively.
Bailey said: “I won’t make a decision until next week (over Vinndication’s participation). I think if all things go to plan next week, you are more likely to see him here. He is an out-and-out stayer, so three and a quarter miles is no problem.
“I think I’ve only had two or three runners in it. I had Mr Frisk placed in it and another horse called Man O’Magic finish sixth in it. Docklands Express was also third in it.
“I’ve yet to win it. It’s a lovely race to win and it would be great on my CV.”
Although Vinndication was not foot perfect in a schooling session alongside Grade Two-winning stablemate Newtide at Newbury, Bailey believes it will have taken some of the freshness out of him and sharpened him up.
He added: “I wanted to school him today as when I brought him here two years ago to school, he wasn’t very good.
“He was very fresh today, and I was desperate to get a school in today to see how he reacted.
“By the last fence he got himself sorted out – he took the first two miles outside the wings.
“We will school him between now and then at home and make a decision after the weekend on where we go.”
Bailey could also be represented in the race by Two For Gold, who has the option of Newcastle’s Listed Betfair Rehearsal Chase on the same day.
He said: “I would think it is 50/50 he runs. When we make the entry for the Rehearsal Chase, we will see the two races and see where we are.
“He definitely fits the profile, but it would be nicer if he was a year older.
“It’s a big ask for him to go from two and a half miles at Wetherby to three and a quarter miles around here, because he hasn’t been that trip before.”
Tom George believes Grade One-winning hurdler Black Op will have no issues racing beyond three miles for the first time in the handicap feature.
George said: “He had a nice run up at Carlisle in an intermediate chase there. He wasn’t ready that day – that would have put him spot on hopefully.
“He won’t have any problems with the trip. He loves a big, flat track. He has got a good weight, and this has been the plan for quite a while with him.
“In the Kauto Star Chase at Kempton (last December), we should have maybe in hindsight made a bit more use of him as he was only beaten a short distance in the end. I can’t see stamina being a problem.
“He hasn’t done that much chasing for an older horse, but he seems to be going the right way.”
Ben Pauling is confident he has Kildisart, another in action at the gallops event, exactly where he wants him on his return to fences – having finished third in the West Yorkshire Hurdle at Wetherby on his reappearance.
“We went to Wetherby as a bit of a prep race – and he ran a mighty race, to be honest, against some good hurdlers,” said Pauling.
“He will come on for that run, and he came out of the race very well. It was nice to see him just stride on today.
“He was very relaxed – and Holly (Osborne), who rides him every day, said when he got upsides, he just locked on. That was job done for him.
“He does seem to be getting better with age. I think he is in as good a place as he can be to come here in 10 days and give it his all.”