First Flow 'ready to go' as Kim Bailey plots Punchestown festival bid
Kim Bailey is ready to take on Ireland's best at Punchestown with First Flow on course for the William Hill Champion Steeplechase.
The nine-year-old is one of two British-trained horses among the entries but Sandown has been talked about for Nube Negra, leaving First Flow the likely sole raider to take on Allaho, Put The Kettle On and Chacun Pour Soi on home soil.
Bailey believes right-handed Punchestown will suit First Flow, whose Grade 1 victory in the Clarence House Chase came at right-handed Ascot in January. At Cheltenham, going the other way, he could finish only sixth.
William Hill make him a 12-1 shot with Chacun Pour Soi heading the betting at 5-4 for the race on April 27.
"He's ready to go and we're heading out there, that's the plan," Bailey said. "He didn't run at Aintree, so it's a good race for him. He seems to be heading in the right direction [at home]. At least it's the right way round, which will help him.
"I'm sure they'll do a phenomenal job with their watering. If the ground is like it was at Cheltenham that'll be fine."
Bailey has four entries for Punchestown but First Flow will be his only representative across the five-day meeting, which starts on April 27.
Espoir De Romay was one of the most exciting names after his big effort at Aintree, when travelling strongly in Grade 1 company before falling two out.
The handicapper raised him 5lb to a mark of 160 for that defeat in the Mildmay Novices' Chase, eventually won by Chantry House, meaning he may have to be kept at Graded level next season.
Bailey added: "Espoir De Romay had a hard race and fell at the second-last so it's a big ask for him to go over there [Punchestown] and run again. The handicapper felt he would've won, his crystal ball is stronger than mine!
"Who knows? It was a long way out. Either way, it was a really good run and he's a very exciting horse for next season."
He said of remaining entries Ajero and Vinndication: "Ajero didn't run very well at Aintree, so that's him done [for the season] and Vinndication didn't run his race either. They won't run."
Goshen, Epatante, Buveur D'Air and Silver Streak are among the British-trained entries in the Paddy Power Champion Hurdle on April 30. The sponsors have offered a €100,000 bonus to any British-trained winner.
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