Horses for Courses – Our weekly racing column with Mark Beesley

Caroline Bailey

Caroline Bailey

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Shock 25/1 winner Malapie has ample scope for improvement for his Northants owners in the opinion of trainer’s husband Gerald Bailey.

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The four year-old gelding by the sire Westerner was like lightning off the blocks last Saturday lunch time. He found himself back in the winner’s enclosure at Wetherby shortly after 12.15pm, with delighted jockey Adam Pogson.

With trainer Caroline Bailey making the hop across to Chepstow where the yard’s recent flag bearer Noble Legend lost no cast in defeat after running second in the 2m 4f handicap chase, after four consecutive wins, husband Gerald was in Yorkshire with Malapie and Trucking Along, both owned by local Corby couple David and Denise Bailey.

While Malapie was a first runner from Holdenby North Lodge stables for the new owners, Trucking Along landed a seller for them at odds of 33/1 at the same track in October, when that horse was trained by Stuart Crawford.

The desire to have something handled closer to home to enable them to be more ‘hands on’ reaped instant dividends for the cattle dealer and former owner of Oakley Skips.

Although Trucking Along failed to show any semblance of his previous form, falling three from home when well beaten in the handicap hurdle, Malapie had already landed the bacon.

Gerald Bailey said of the winner, who had finished second in a point to point in Ireland: “Although we were surprised that he won I did tell the owners I thought he would be in the first three or four.”

He added: “Perhaps there were one or two that didn’t run their race but what made it so good was that the horse pulled very hard. If he learns to settle in his races there could be a lot better to come from him. The form of his race in Ireland is good as the winner made £120,000 and the third horse (King Helissio) has since won as well.”

Turning attention to Noble Legend, who was beaten four and a half lengths by Triptico from the Evans Williams stable, Bailey said: “That was probably the best race he has run in his career. At this higher level he probably wants further distance but we thought we could get away with it on the heavier ground.”

Local jockey Tom Messenger then partnered the yard’s runner Refusal to be a pleasing fourth of 13 in a novices’ chase at Warwick on Sunday and while perhaps no world beater, he remains one to be interested in as he gets to grips with the bigger obstacles. Refusal is owned by local men Richard Lloyd and Matthew Varley, while Bailey himself retains a share.

LOCAL trainers Ben Case and Tony Middleton have both recently found themselves among the winners recently with Handtheprizeover and Fitandproperjob respectively. The former was scoring on his seasonal bow at Wincanton having been re-routed from an abandoned Leicester card, while the Middleton scorer came at Folkestone.

Case will be hoping Brass Tax follows up his recent Market Rasen victory at Doncaster on Saturday while Middleton, now operating out of a yard at Culworth, has a clutch of entries at Lingfield on the same day.

Meanwhile, keep an eye on the Alex Hales-trained Crafty Roberto who has entries at Cheltenham, Lingfield and Doncaster over the next few days and is looking to strike for his local connections.

Impressive recent Towcester winner Ardkilly Witness could be seen to good effect at Cheltenham on Saturday in a 3m Grade 2 hurdle contest.

HOW close was Towcester to witnessing another visit from Harry Redknapp last week? While we may not discover the answer to that one, the Alan King-trained Hot Whiskey, in the colours of the new QPR boss, was a non-runner on the day.