Gloucestershire trainer Kim Bailey, whose string look in good form heading into next week’s Cheltenham Festival, has announced that his leading novice chaser Vinndication will now miss his eagerly anticipated engagement in either the JLT Novices’ Chase or the RSA Chase in what is a big blow to the popular yard.
Bailey took the six-year-old son of Vinnie Roe to Newbury for a racecourse gallop on Sunday but was not happy with what he saw, pulling the horse from his entries. While the setback means his season is not necessarily over given that Aintree’s Grand National festival is still to come in April, it does mean that success at Cheltenham will have to wait until at least next term now.
After two comfortable wins at Carlisle and Ascot this season had made it six win from six for Vinndication, his unbeaten career record came to an end last month when he ran third to Defi Du Seuil in the Grade 1 Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase (Grade One) at Sandown and clearly something has gone slightly amiss.
Bailey’s charge retained options at the Festival before this setback too; having won the Noel Novices’ Chase at Ascot in late December he was high in punters’ thoughts for both the JLT Novices’ over two-and-a-half miles and the RSA Chase over three miles.
His handler has been careful to point out to the public however that Vinndication, who did his piece of work at Newbury along with stable companion Wandrin Star, is still a weak and immature horse and it seems that despite his previous facile victories, that weakness is starting to show and perhaps the Festival has just come at the wrong time for him with a recovery period obviously now needed.
Clearly there are big races to be won with this horse in the future after he achieved a BHA rating of 151 following his first six career starts and in getting home well at Ascot over two miles and five furlongs, he may well even be a Gold Cup prospect for next year all things being well.
His defection leaves the RSA market a little more open but still packed with quality; Delta Work, a dual Grade 1 winner and scorer at last year’s Festival in the Pertemps Final is now favourite for Gordon Elliott at around 9/4 while Nicky Henderson’s star Santini has drifted to a very backable 7/2 after losing a shoe while working at home and requiring a poultice to be applied.
That should not concern backers too much and despite a setback on Boxing Day when a beaten favourite in the Kauto Star Novices’ Chase, the son of Milan boasts just about the best form in the field.
The JLT market is a little more competitive with Vinndication’s conqueror Defi Du Seuil as short as 11/4 with some firms but available widely at 7/2, while Colin Tizzard’s Lostintranslation (generally 3/1) now rates a very interesting type given his form with the aforementioned Gordon Elliott runner.
Although Lostintranslation was beaten in that Sandown contest, he had made a mistake and was still only down by three-quarters of a length at the line so considering he had previously beaten Defi Du Seuil at Cheltenham he must be considered a leading fancy now.
He was giving Phillip Hobbs’ horse three pounds at Prestbury Park in the Dipper back on New Year’s Day, but also handed out a comfortable enough 1¾ length beating to him and with course experience so important here, that may yet turn out to be the most crucial piece of form on offer.