Kim Bailey outlines possible starting points for First Flow

First Flow - back in action at Sandown
Image: First Flow - back in action at Sandown

Kim Bailey's First Flow could return to action at Sandown in December as the Grade One Tingle Creek is a possible new-season starting point.

The nine-year-old was a three-times winner last term, beginning his campaign with back-to-back victories in handicaps at Ascot and Wetherby before successfully stepping up to Grade One level in the Clarence House at Ascot.

Runs in both the Queen Mother Champion Chase at Cheltenham and the Punchestown Champion Chase resulted in sixth-placed finishes, after which the gelding underwent a minor operation after being found to have kissing spines.

The Tingle Creek Chase is a possible seasonal comeback for the horse, with another run at Ascot also under consideration as Bailey intends to hold out for soft ground.

"The Tingle Creek is a possibility or we could go back to Ascot and step him up to two and a half miles," he said.

"It is so ground related for him. He is definitely a better horse right-handed, so we need a wet winter.

"I didn't think it was soft enough the first time he won at Ascot last season and as a result of it he was off the bridle an awful long way out, but he stayed on which suggests he might get further.

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"It can get deep at Sandown but we will have to watch what Mr Henderson does with Shishkin as well.

"He is a complete gem - he is a bit of an oddball, but that is what makes good horses."

Imperial Aura is another Bailey-trained horse who had a flawless start to his campaign last season, winning the Listed Colin Parker Chase and following up that performance with another success in the Grade Two 1965 Chase at Ascot.

His next run was cut short as he unseated jockey David Bass at the second fence in the Silviniaco Conti Chase and a tilt at Cheltenham's Ryanair Chase also ended in misfortune as the eight-year-old was pulled up when breaking a blood vessel.

The bay will now step back up to three miles and is due to start his campaign in the Grade One Betfair Chase at Haydock in late November.

"Imperial Aura is probably going to go straight to the Betfair Chase as he is now crying out to go over three miles," Bailey said.

"He had a wind operation over the summer and he looks a lot stronger than he was this time last year.

"It was very unfortunate he parted company with David (Bass) at Kempton, then he broke a blood vessel at Cheltenham, but I've never seen a race run as fast as that Ryanair.

"I think he will come back a stronger horse and three miles will suit him. I don't know how much more there is to come but three miles will make a big difference I hope."

Absent from the Bailey stable this season is seven-year-old chaser Happygolucky, who was last seen winning the Grade Three Betway Handicap Chase at the Grand National Festival at Aintree and has since sustained an injury that will sideline him until next year.

"He is not in this season," Bailey said of the gelding.

"Sadly he has got a slight injury. I could bring him back in at Christmas time for the second half of the season but I decided against it. A year off won't be the end of the world with him and I very much hope when he comes back next season he will be fine."

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