Horses To Follow » Blazing Bailey

Blazing Bailey

Blazing Bailey put in a most impressive performance in getting back to winning ways in the Class 2 0-145 three-mile-two-and-a-half-furlong handicap chase at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day. He started off towards the rear of the 17-strong field, but his accurate jumping and verve had taken him much closer by the time they passed the stands at the end of the first circuit. His jumping was very good throughout, taking him right up to front rank down the back straight on the second circuit and, despite seeming to want to hang to his right around the last two turns, he took it up turning in, went on with a good jump at the last (the normal last was actually omitted) and fairly scampered clear up the hill.

Formerly a top class staying hurdler, he had struggled over fences last season and back over hurdles on his seasonal reappearance, but this was much more like the old Blazing Bailey here, really looking like he had got his act together over the larger obstacles. Indeed, his jumping was the thing that impressed the most about this performance. He has been raised 13lb for this performance, which was more than expected from a horse who is not obviously progressive, but it still leaves him on a mark of 146, 4lb lower than his current mark over hurdles and 17lb lower than his peak over the smaller obstacles. Natural inclination is to think that that is too severe, but he jumped so well here that it is reasonable to expect that he is now an even better chaser than a hurdler, so a 4lb lower mark over fences is probably lenient. Also, he could be another one of those Alan King horses who is well-handicapped this season after an out-of-sorts time of it last term. Even though he seems to have been around for a very long time, Blazing Bailey has only just turned nine. Trainer Alan King said afterwards that this was a last chance saloon for Blazing Bailey and he would apparently have been retired if he hadn’t have shown much here. Given that, he may still be under-rated next time out, and given the way he wanted to jump and hang to his right at times, may be even better going right-handed. He does go well at Cheltenham though, and could be a horse for the William Hill Chase at the Festival, with both Aintree and Ayr (Scottish National) also mentioned afterwards. Wherever he runs next, if he turns up with the same enthusiasm he showed here, off this mark, he will be difficult to beat.

1st January 2011