Kim Bailey believes now is the time for Chianti Classico to dip his toe into Grade One waters in the Huyton Asphalt Franny Blennerhassett Memorial Mildmay Novices’ Chase.

Always highly regarded by Bailey, the seven-year-old really came of age at Cheltenham last month, winning the ultra-competitive Ultima by four and a half lengths.

That was his third win of the season, with his only reverse coming when second to Flegmatik at Kempton.

With the handicapper putting him up 11lb, the Andoversford handler saw little point in running in a handicap with top weight and instead he takes on fellow Festival winner Inothewayyurthinkin.

“It was a really good performance at Cheltenham and the handicapper was obviously very impressed as well as he put him up 11lb,” said Bailey.

“We’re lucky that we know he’ll go the very soft ground as it was heavy going at Cheltenham.

“He’s definitely worth a crack at a Grade One now, the only alternative was to run in a handicap this week, but that 11lb rise meant he would have had top weight and if he’d done that and run well or even won, you’d have just been thinking why you weren’t in the Grade One.

“He’s been to Aintree before, we ran him in the bumper at this meeting a couple of years ago so he’s got that experience.”

Inothewayurthinkin and Iroko are both owned by JP McManus but have taken very different routes.

Gavin Cromwell’s Inothewayurthinkin arrives of the back of a very easy win off top weight in the Kim Muir and certainly looks worth stepping back up in grade having run well behind Arkle winner Gaelic Warrior at Limerick in December.

“Inothewayurthinkin came out of Cheltenham very well and did it very nicely on the day. Gavin is very happy with him, we’ll know more about where we stand after the race on Friday but he’s in good form,” said McManus’ racing manager Frank Berry.

Iroko, who won the Martin Pipe over hurdles at Cheltenham last March, made a very impressive chasing debut at Warwick in November.

He picked up an injury there and was initially ruled out for the rest of the season but arrived back at the yard of joint-trainers Oliver Greenall and Josh Guerriero quicker than expected and finished a respectable fifth to Grey Dawning in the Turners.

“Iroko’s preparation for Cheltenham was a bit quick after the hold-up. He ran quite well there and the boys are hoping he’s come forward from that run and we’re hoping for a nice run,” said Berry.

Nigel Twiston-Davies fields Broadway Boy, who was denied a run at Cheltenham due to a minor setback. He wears cheekpieces for the first time.

The Lucinda Russell-trained Giovinco, an excellent third to Fact To File in the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase, and Henry de Bromhead’s Heart Wood, impressive when landing a competitive handicap at the Dublin Racing Festival, add further intrigue.

“He was very good in the Leopardstown Chase at the Dublin Racing Festival. He’s very lightly raced and I think that he’s progressive,” Heart Wood’s rider Rachael Blackmore told Betfair.

“He’s obviously taking a big step up here, from a handicap chase into a Grade One, but we’re really happy with him at home. I hope that he can stay the trip, and I’m hoping that he can take the step up in class.”

Does He Know put up a tremendous weight-carrying performance to provide trainer Kim Bailey with a third victory in the Grimthorpe Chase at Doncaster.

Although a four-time winner over fences, including Grade Two and Grade Three triumphs at Ascot and Cheltenham respectively, Does He Know was a 20-1 shot for his latest assignment having failed to trouble the judge in three previous starts this season.

The nine-year-old also had the burden of 12st on his back and had to concede upwards of 11lb to each of his nine rivals, but bounced back to his best under a buccaneering ride from David Bass.

The three-mile-two-furlong contest was not for the faint hearted, with eight of the 10 runners failing to complete the course.

Some Scope, the 3-1 favourite to complete his hat-trick following recent wins at Catterick and at this track, looked to have been delivered with a perfectly-timed challenge halfway up the home straight by Gavin Sheehan, but try as he might he was unable to reel in Does He Know, who stuck to his guns to claim top honours by just over three lengths.

Bailey, who has previously won the Grimthorpe with Shraden Leader in 1994 and The Last Samuri in 2016, said: “We very much hoped he would do that. He was the best horse in the race, the rain definitely helped us and we were very hopeful he would run a smashing race.

“He’s got some very good form. He’s a very hard horse to place and we’ve run him in two races this season we knew he had no chance in but there weren’t any alternatives.

“It has always been the plan to run in this race and it was unbelievably good performance with 12st on his back in that ground, it was extraordinary.

“I’m really pleased for the owners and everybody involved because we’ve had a shocking old winter really. The horses haven’t been wrong, but we’ve got very few horses that go in this ground.”

Does He Know holds an entry in the Midlands Grand National at Uttoxeter in a fortnight’s time, but will not take up that engagement.

“He won’t go there, definitely not. He doesn’t have to run again this season, but if he does it will either be the Whitbread (bet365 Gold Cup) or the Scottish National, I would think,” Bailey added.

“He’s had a hard race today, so he’ll want a bit of time to get over that.”

Pinot Rouge (20-1) provided Northumberland-based trainer Susan Corbett with the most notable success of her training career so far in the Tips For Every Race At Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle, narrowly outpointing Irish raider Ottizzini by half a length under Edward Austin.

Corbett said: “I hoped we’d be in the first half of the field because although she’s not got a lot of speed, she grinds away and loves the soft ground.

“On her first run for us she was flying home when she was third and while she’s doesn’t show that at home, the boys that ride her say when you ask her she gives a little bit more.

“If we’d been third today I would have been delighted, so to finish first I’m somewhere on the ceiling I think! We’ve never won a Listed race before or anything near it, so the whole team at home are thrilled to bits.

“She’ll probably have a little break and if the ground is still like it is now in say four weeks she’ll run again, if not we’ll put away because I think novice chasing will be her game next season.”

Homme Public was a 3-1 winner of the Free Digital Racecard At Handicap Chase for the formidable training partnership of Oliver Greenall and Josh Guerriero, while Curley Finger (2-1 favourite) denied stablemate Floueur by a diminishing nose when leading home a one-two for trainer Rebecca Menzies in the Download The Raceday Ready App Handicap Hurdle.

Chianti Classico was the toast of Ascot having successfully continued his chasing education in the Royal Ascot Racing Club Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase.

A winner of all but one of his outings as a novice hurdler, Kim Bailey’s six-year-old made a successful transition to the larger obstacles at Chepstow last month.

However, he faced a tough task when sent off the 4-5 favourite for this three-runner assignment, having to concede over a stone in weight on the quickest ground he has encountered so far.

Although not at his slickest over his obstacles at points in the three-mile event, his class came to the fore when it mattered as he pulled three-quarters of a length clear of Scrum Diddly after the last.

“That ground was probably quick enough for him and he was not enjoying the ground at all,” said Bailey.

“He has only run on softer ground so fingers crossed he is OK tomorrow.

“It’s a tough performance as he has given lumps of weight away on a day it hasn’t gone right for him. He can see he was landing and not very happy with it.

“His class got him through, definitely, he’s a decent animal. It was a big experience, last time we wanted to drop him right out and get his jumping right and today he couldn’t do it and couldn’t afford to get any further behind.

“He’s won well and at the end of the day he has won, that’s all that matters.”

Chianti Classico is part-owned by Sir Francis Brooke, His Majesty’s Representative and chairman of Ascot and a return to the track for the Reynoldstown Novices’ Chase in the early part of next year could be the ideal opportunity for the gelding to test himself at Graded level.

“We’ll see how he is over the next week and he takes a lot out of himself in his races,” continued Bailey.

“He’s not a horse he can run in a hurry and it will be two months before he runs again whatever happens.

“That would be the ideal race for him and timewise that (the Reynoldstown) fits in very well.”

Another exciting prospect enhancing his reputation was Paul Nicholls’ Farnoge (4-1) who beat some smart opponents to win the Bet With Ascot Donation Box Scheme Novices’ Hurdle.

Second to Gordon Elliott’s Better Days Ahead in a point-to-point before switching to Ditcheat, he is now unbeaten in three starts under rules with his rider Harry Cobden expecting bigger and better things later in the year.

“I can see him being a Graded horse,” said Cobden after the two-and-a-quarter-length success.

“We will have to get home and speak to the boss and see what he thinks, but he’s very smart.

“He went to Newton Abbot when he was probably 75-80 per cent fit and had a nice canter round there and he’s done the same again here against some useful horses behind him, it’s exciting.

“He would be right up there in the top five (novices at Ditcheat). 100 per cent. He will definitely be in Graded races and he’s had a 5lb penalty today as well.”

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