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Bannixtown glory for Bass and McCain at Kempton

David Bass continued his recent good run in the saddle after Bannixtown Glory completed his second double in the space of three days with victory at Kempton.

The 32-year-old again demonstrated he is riding at the top of his game with an enterprising front-running victory aboard the Donald McCain-trained 12-1 chance in the Listed Racing TV Mares’ Hurdle.

Despite facing a host of challengers late on in the extended three-mile prize, the six-year-old rallied gamely under Bass before defeating recent Hereford scorer Getaway Totherock by a length and three-quarters.

McCain – who won the race in 2009 with the smart Whiteoak – said: “There were plenty of question marks over a lot of them regarding the trip, but one thing you can rely on with her is that she turns up every time and the ground and trip were fine.

“We were hoping to get a little bit of black type and between the last two I thought we would be hard done by if she didn’t get it, but she got more than we hoped for and is set for life.

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“I would imagine Charlotte (McCracken) will breed from her and that makes a big difference to her CV. She deserved that win, as she is as tough as nails.”

Kim Bailey equalled last season’s total of 32 winners after Ajero (10-11) – who is a half-brother to the yard’s Grade Two winner Charbel – got the ball rolling for Bass when getting the better of Captain Morgs by a length in the EBF Stallions “National Hunt’ Novices’ Hurdle.

Bass said: “I was absolutely delighted with that. He relaxed lovely in front and his jumping was at its best over the last two when they were going quick. He picked up really well down the straight. Although he hung right it was nowhere near as bad as Ludlow.

“He is not as big as Charbel as he is a bit more compact. He is by a sire (Red Clubs) that is all about speed. It is nice to have a proper two-miler in the yard.”

Few people will have left the track as happy as Zac Baker who not only celebrated his first winner of the season, but reduced his claim from five to three pounds with a front-running success aboard Supakalanistic (14-1) in the Wise Betting At racingtv.com Handicap Hurdle.

Baker said: “That’s my 5lb claim gone. I’d been stuck on 39 winners since March. I’m delighted to do it on this horse though as I’ve had three wins on him now.

“Thanks to the owners and Nigel Twiston-Davies for putting him on me. When he goes out again hopefully I might get the call up.

“He is a lovely little horse. He has got a really good gallop and really good stride so I thought I might as well send him on.”

Fergus Gillard was another to enjoy a milestone winner when riding out his 7lb claim on the Alexandra Dunn-trained Thahab Ifraj in the conditional jockeys’ handicap hurdle, which the 8-1 shot claimed by a length and three-quarters.

Gillard – who enjoyed a big-race win with Main Fact at Haydock on Saturday – said: “I’m delighted to get down to 5lb and long may it last. Thanks go to David Pipe and my dad (Mark Gillard) as they have been my biggest supporters.

“He won well today off a very light weight which was a big help against the second horse who was carrying top-weight.”

Bass confident Imperial Aura can be Grade One star

Finding a horse able to compete at the highest level can be a challenge, but David Bass believes he has struck gold with Imperial Aura judging by his victory in the Chanelle Pharma 1965 Chase at Ascot.

Having followed up last season’s Cheltenham Festival triumph in a Listed event at Carlisle on his return, the Kim Bailey-trained seven-year-old took another step forwards with a dominant display in the Grade Two, which he claimed by five lengths.

With the ceiling of Imperial Aura’s ability yet to be established, Bass, who rode dual Queen Mother Champion Chase winner Sprinter Sacre, among others, on the gallops during his time with Nicky Henderson, expects the gelding to take a step up to Grade One company in his stride.

Bass said: “It’s hard to compare any horse with Sprinter Sacre, and even some of the other horses I was lucky enough to sit on at home at Nicky’s, but Sprinter was something else.

“Take nothing away from this horse though, as I do think he can compete at the top level. I think the most exciting thing is you don’t know how much he can improve.

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“What I’ve felt in his two runs this season, I’m confident he can compete at the top level and do us proud and win a Grade One.

“He is probably one of the most exciting horses I have got to look forward to.”

On official ratings, Imperial Aura still had work to do with two of his four Ascot rivals if he was to continue his progression, although Bass was confident going into the two-mile-five-furlong contest that he would be able to cope with such demands.

Bass added: “We came into it having the utmost respect for all the other horses in the race, as there were Grade One winners in there that had strong form. We were confident our horse was in good form. We knew that our big asset was his jumping.

“The way he jumped down the back the second time was brilliant. That is going to stand him in good stead when competing at the top level.

“I felt he had improved at home from Carlisle. I was confident he was going to run a big race and take a lot of beating today. He was having a good look around in front and I think there is more improvement to come from him.”

Quite often there are signs from an early age as to whether a horse has potential star quality, and Bass feels Imperial Aura is no different.

He added: “He was a good bumper horse and he went to Carlisle for his first hurdle race. I remember then thinking ‘this is a good horse’. That season he was plagued with sore shins. We’ve given him time to mature and get over that, and I think it is paying off now.

All roads will now lead to a Festival return in March for Imperial Aura, with an outing in the Ryanair Chase the intended target, but given the way he finished at Ascot, Bass hopes he could progress even further once stepped back up in trip.

Bass added: “I think in time he will get three miles, but for now I agree with Kim and we have to stay at this trip. If that means we end up in the Ryanair, so be it.

“Imperial Commander won a Ryanair and then a Gold Cup in the same colours. They are a great bunch of owners who have another serious horse on their hands.”

Imperial Aura is impressive in Colin Parker Memorial

Kim Bailey admits he has some thinking to do over future targets after Imperial Aura made a faultless return to action in the Colin Parker Memorial Intermediate Chase at Carlisle.

A winner at the Cheltenham Festival in March, Imperial Aura was sent off 7-4 favourite in a strong field of six well-regarded horses.

David Bass was happy to take a lead for the first two miles, with Sam Brown and Black Op keen to get on with things.

As the field turned into the straight, Imperial Aura moved upsides, and some spectacular leaps took him to the lead – which he was not to relinquish as he powered up the hill to beat Windsor Avenue by two and a half lengths, with Sam Brown losing little in defeat in third carrying a penalty.

The victory means Imperial Aura will pick up a penalty for this month’s Paddy Power Gold Cup at Cheltenham – for which he is 6-1 joint-favourite, and would almost certainly be top weight, leaving Bailey with a big decision to make.

“He was very impressive, and I’m absolutely delighted with him,” he said.

“Hopefully he’s going to improve for the race as well, so we’ve got lots to think about.

“The weights for the Paddy Power come out on Tuesday – but he’ll get a penalty, so I have to sit and think where we’ll go.

“We ran him over three miles last year, so I have no issue at all about stepping him up to three miles.

“When I was watching it I couldn’t believe it when he came back on the bridle four out – I’m really pleased. I’m also pleased for Ian Robinson (of Imperial Racing syndicate, who own Imperial Aura) – because he’s a big part of the yard, so it’s great to have a good horse for them.”

Earlier Rose Dobbin enjoyed a nice double on the card – with Le Cheval Noir (9-1) in the Join Racing TV Now Novices’ Hurdle and Rath An Iuir (7-2) in the Gordon Richards Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase.

Both were ridden by Conor O’Farrell.

Racing Insights, 31st October 2020

Matt standing in for Chris again. Friday's race went largely as anticipated, though the winner - flagged here yesterday - was a rotten price in the end! Lezardrieux made him battle and Lucky Lodge came home fourth, almost completing a trifecta from four horses in the summary (the other was sent off at 66/1 and ran like it).

We'll crack on with Saturday.

It's a terrific day of racing where the jumpers really come to the fore, and the awesome TJ Combo report is the free feature.

Meanwhile, the six free races are...

  • 12.32 Ayr
  • 14.40 Newmarket
  • 15.35 Down Royal
  • 15.40 Ascot
  • 15.50 Newmarket
  • 17.30 Wolverhampton

I've set up the Course 5 Year view on the TJ Combo report and, because there is so much good racing, I've gone with an ultra-demanding IV of 2, meaning a trainer/jockey pairing must win at least twice as often as the average at the tracks in question. That narrows things down to a workable number.

 

Let's take them in order, starting with the Nicky Richards/Brian Hughes combo and their 41% hit rate at Ayr in the last five years. Clicking on the row shows today's qualifier and clicking the little 'up arrow' to the left of the trainer name reveals the historical qualifiers:

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There are more qualifiers than I'm showing in the above, but we can clearly see that a lot of these winners have occurred recently: five from eight in 2020 alone. However, note that Castle Rushen was beaten in a bumper here in March. Having looked at the race I'd say he's a very good chance to win (duh) and his price is about right. About right is not a value proposition to me, so I'll let him go.

Next is the hot Bailey/Bass team, who combine for two runners at Wetherby. Vinndication is a classy chap but he's in deep tomorrow, against Cyrname and co, and - again - his price is tight enough; in fact, it's a bit on the skinny side for my tastes.

But their other runner, Hes No Trouble, has a case to be made for him beyond the TJ Combo angle.

Below I've highlighted my Report Angles (the red '3' and accompany trio of rows) and QT Angle (the blue '1' and accompanying row). These tell me that Bailey/Bass are in great recent form as well as having great long-term course form; and I also note that Bailey is one of my trainers to mark up with runners on their first start after a wind op (see the W1 by the horse's name).

Also note the t1 - first time tongue tie - which implies this fellow has been struggling quite badly with his breathing.

Looking at his form, it might also be he's been struggling with distance and ground: after a win on a similarly flat track over a similar trip on similar ground and off a similar mark he was then beaten over half a mile further, on softer ground and in higher grade.

This is still a Class 3 race but he gets a shorter distance and faster turf; and of course he gets the wind tweaks. There's enough there to make 10/1 look big enough for all that it's a competitive race with plenty of other (shorter priced) options.

And I was able to make a value case for the McCain/Hughes partnership's Ayr runner, Goobinator, too.

This time it is because, rightly or wrongly, I want to be against 5/2 ish second choice, Calva D'Auge. The form of that one's wins has worked out terribly (note the 'Then What?' section on the right hand side) - the only winner from 39 subsequent starters from the Wincanton victory was... himself next time out; and there have been no winners from 19 from that Plumpton run since.

Of course,  it's a new season and Calva has a heavy ground score but he's making the market for me.

Similar to Bailey and Bass, Goobinator represents strong recent TJ form as well as longer term TJ track form, as can be seen from my Report Angles in the image below.

Their other runner goes in the 'newcomers' bumper, in which - as the name suggests - none of the field has run before. Not for me, thanks.

And the final contender from my strict TJ Combo shortlist is the Mark Johnston/PJ McDonald pairing at Newmarket. They saddle Reams Of Love, a nursery handicap debutant in a field full of unexposed types. We can see that both trainer and jockey have a great track record, together and individually: that's perhaps because Newmarket favours front-runners and most of Johnston's are ridden from the front.

Although it's far from assured, with so many yet to established a pattern to their preferred run style, what we do know is that the Johnston horse has led in both starts to date. He'll make a bold bid under a jockey that rides the course very well.

Summary

Even deploying a seriously demanding Impact Value parameter of 2 on the Trainer Jockey Combo report, I still get plenty with which to work. A number of these look degrees of interesting at the prices. I will be backing Hes No Trouble for small stakes each way at around 11/1, and may have a small win bet on Reams Of Love, too, the 13/2 in a place (BOG if you can get it with 365) feeling like a sliver on the generous side (and, in this case, it really is no more than a feeling).