Punters back trainer to have first Festival win in five years

Five years on from celebrating his last Cheltenham Festival victory, Kim Bailey has confidence in his two leading contenders for this year's meeting.

The top trainer, whose stable is just seven miles from the racecourse, is responsible for two of the favourites in the handicap races over the four days.

Vinndication is at the head of the market for the Ultima Handicap Chase on March 10, having had just the one start this season when winning impressively at Ascot.

While Imperial Aura is the shortest price of any horse set to race in the Northern Trust Company Novices' Handicap Chase on the same afternoon.

Bailey last tasted Cheltenham Festival glory in 2015, when Darna shocked punters at odds of 33/1 in the Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate.

The meeting is set to start on soft ground , as long as there are no interruptions due to the coronavirus outbreak .

"Vinndication runs in the Ultima Handicap Chase," Bailey said yesterday.

"He worked this morning and I was delighted with him.

"He has only run once this season, which won't do him any harm as he has not been chuntering around on heavy ground all winter.

"He has won seven out of nine. He got beat at Sandown last season and we weren't hugely happy, but Defi Du Seuil and Lostintranslation were the two horses that beat him, so in hindsight it was a very good race."

Imperial Aura's mark went up to 143 following his second at the track behind Simply The Betts on Festival Trials Day.

Vinndication shares top weight with the Gordon Elliott-trained Alpha Des Obeaux for his intended target.

The two horses were on the gallops together on Wednesday morning, hours before the weights were revealed at the annual racehorse gathering.

Bailey said Imperial Aura should benefit from contesting races at the track ahead of the big day.

"He has only had the three runs over fences and two of them have been here, so he has experience around the racecourse," he said.

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