Vinndication tests Gold Cup credentials in Charlie Hall Chase

Kim Bailey will test Vinndication's Cheltenham Gold Cup credentials in the bet365 Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby on Saturday.

The Gloucestershire trainer hopes all roads will lead to the festival feature for the seven-year-old, who has started every season with a win.

Up against Britain's highest-rated chaser Cyrname, the classy Sam Spinner and last year's hero Ballyoptic, Bailey admits it will not be easy to keep his chaser's perfect record intact at the weekend.

But he believes now is the right time to see if Vinndication has what it takes to become his first runner in the Gold Cup since 1995, the year he saddled the winner Master Oats.

"His work has been very good this season, he's a stronger horse now than he has been before so I'm delighted," he said in a Zoom call hosted by Great British Racing.

"I go there with the confidence I know the horse is in the best form he has been in so it's really a question now whether he's good enough."

Vinndication had the alternative option of the Grade 3 Sodexo Gold Cup at Ascot, a race Paul Nicholls was also considering for Cyrname, but they head north to compete at the higher level.

Both are yet to win at a left-handed track, but the younger of the two horses has finished fourth (2020 Ultima Handicap Chase) and fifth (2019 JLT Novices' Chase) at Cheltenham.

"He (Vinndication) had a very disappointing preparation (last year) if you want to put it that way," Bailey added.

"We were due to take him to Newbury two weeks before the Cheltenham Festival for a racecourse gallop and they cancelled that because of the amount of rain they had.

"It might have made a difference to three or four lengths and if that was the case then he would have had his head in front rather than finishing fourth.

"He ran a very good race, I was absolutely thrilled with him.

"And there has been a big thing about him, certainly in the same direction of Cyrname, that he is yet to win left-handed, but he has run very well at Cheltenham twice so I'm not particularly worried by that."

Brian Ellison’s 2018 winner Definitly Red is also in Saturday's field of ten, with Aye Right, Mister Whitaker and Saint Xavier.

Keeper Hill and La Bague Au Roi represent trainer Warren Greatrex.

Rain is expected before the start of the 3m feature, at a meeting where bookmakers bet365 are sponsoring 13 of the 14 races over the two days.

"The forecasters are suggesting between 7 and 10mm today if we get that much, but by the end of this afternoon it will be dry," said clerk of the course Jonjo Sanderson.

"I think with this rain it will be more like the slow side of good to soft."

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