'Complete oddball' First Flow captures Peterborough Chase for Bailey and Bass
Trainer and jockey could not agree on the wisdom of stepping First Flow up in trip for a first try at two and a half miles but in the end Kim Bailey's decision paid off as his stable star ran out a fine winner of the Fitzdares Peterborough Chase.
That had not looked the likely outcome for much of the race, with Funambule Sivola's quick and economical jumping putting Allmankind and Master Tommytucker on the back foot as David Bass remained content to save ground around the inside on First Flow.
Despite two or three messy leaps, First Flow eased forward to join issue with the leader two out and got every yard of the new trip to score by four and a half lengths in Huntingdon's signature race of the year.
The decision to bypass Saturday's Tingle Creek over two miles only arose after Bailey became concerned that Sandown required watering earlier in the week, while First Flow's best efforts have all come with ease in the ground.
"Watching First Flow has never been a spectacle for me, I hate every moment of it because he crashes through every fence," said Bailey, who also won the Peterborough in 2018 with Charbel.
"He's a complete freak of nature and an oddball in every sense of the word. He's no rogue, he's an absolute gent. He just has no respect for anything."
The nine-year-old was making his first start since a pair of sixth placed finishes at the Cheltenham and Punchestown Festivals and was allowed to go off at 12-1, despite having claimed Grade 1 honours in last season's Clarence House Chase.
Bailey said: "I had an argument with my jockey all week, he was convinced he wasn't going to stay – he was still convinced today – but it's great. I'm really pleased for Tony Solomons, he's my longest serving owner. Health has taken over, so he's not here today but he deserves it.
"I would definitely think he would go back for the Clarence House Chase now and he might get his ground there."
Bass was in the happy position of riding a major winner even though he was far from sure about First Flow's stamina reserves.
"I hate when the trainer is right," said Bass. "I rode him over two miles and three furlongs twice a couple of years ago and when I pulled up on those occasions I said he was a two-miler. I was convinced he wouldn't get the trip.
"He's a far better now and is stronger and bigger. He's a wonderful horse."
Venetia Williams will have plenty to reflect on when planning the rest of the campaign for Funambule De Sivola, who was second to Shishkin over two miles at Aintree in April.
"The race didn't pan out how we expected because we thought the other two [Allmankind and Master Tommytucker] would go on a bit quicker, so our chap ended up quite keen," said Williams. "But I'm very pleased with the run and he now has options at two and two and a half miles. His jumping is terrific."
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