Bailey: Step up in trip to suit Imperial Aura

Kim Bailey feels the step up to three miles will suit Imperial Aura as he bids to land a first Grade One in the Betfair Chase at Haydock on Saturday.

The eight-year-old gelding had an excellent start to his campaign last year, winning the Listed Colin Parker Memorial Intermediate Chase at Carlisle and backing that up with victory in the Grade Two 1965 Chase at Ascot, a race taking place on Saturday, live on Sky Sports Racing.

But instead of aiming to defend his title at the Berkshire track, Bailey is looking to step up from the intermediate distance to three miles in the Grade One Betfair Chase at Haydock, where he could meet Cheltenham Gold Cup second A Plus Tard.

Imperial Aura and David Bass win last year's 1965 Chase at Ascot

Imperial Aura and David Bass win last year’s 1965 Chase at Ascot

“He’s a bigger, stronger horse than last year and has had a wind operation since the summer,” Bailey said.

“Last season started off very well then at Kempton he unseated David Bass which was unfortunate and at Cheltenham I’ve never seen them go so fast and he just couldn’t cope with it.

Kim Bailey

Kim Bailey

“I’ve always felt a three-mile trip would suit him.

“It’s a big ask to win a Betfair Chase but it’s a race he has to go to and I think it’s the right race. There are a lot of good horses in the race and they’re all seasoned jumpers so we go there as a bit more of a novice in comparison.”

Asked if he was concerned about the ground, Bailey said: “I don’t think anywhere in the country has had rain. I think we’re likely to get snow before we get rain.

“As we know, Haydock can get anything but he’s a horse who has handled good ground and broke the track record at Carlisle on good to firm.”

Espoir De Romay could miss 1965 Chase

In the 1965 Chase at Ascot, stablemate Espoir De Romay has been entered after a satisfactory reappearance at Carlisle, finishing third behind Fiddlerontheroof and Pied The Piper.

Espoir De Romay in action

Espoir De Romay in action

However, Bailey issued a warning that the seven-year-old is a far from confirmed runner, with the lack of rain meaning the horse could instead run at Aintree in the Many Clouds Chase next month.

“He’s got two entries and is working tomorrow morning which will tell us where we go,” he added. “He would prefer slightly softer ground and I’m slightly concerned about it for him.

“The other day at Carlisle it was good to soft and they broke the track record which shows how good a race it was.

“He will step up in trip and I think three miles will be his ideal trip. If he misses this weekend he might end up going for the Many Clouds Chase.”