The inclusion of Kim Bailey in this year's Talking Trainers section of One Jump Ahead has already started to pay dividends with the Cheltenham Gold Cup, Champion Hurdle and Grand National winning handler being in fine form in recent weeks. He sent out an across the card double on Thursday with Imperial Aura (5/6) and Rhaegar (9/2) scoring at Carlisle and Southwell respectively. The former was making his hurdles debut having won a bumper at Ludlow last spring. While his jumping left something to be desired during the early stages, the Kalanisi gelding warmed to his task arguably producing his best leap at the final flight. Having worn down longtime leader and Irish raider Sole Pretender, he ran on strongly to win by three and a half lengths. Despite winning on a stiff track, he appeared to find the 'inner' hurdles course at the Cumbrian venue sharp enough - I can't emphasis enough how much tigher the inner track is compared to the 'outside' track they used seven days earlier. Held in high regard, Imperial Aura's long-term future lies over fences but he is capable of more wins over hurdles in the meantime.
Regular Diary readers will recall I mentioned the Guillaume Macaire trained Please God after he had won by ten lengths on his hurdles debut at Auteuil towards the end of last month. The Saint Des Saints gelding returned to the Parisian track on Thursday and made it two wins from as many starts with a three lengths success. It remains to be seen whether he crosses the English Channel at some stage but he is clearly smart and could be a horse with a very bright future.
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