Chianti Classico: in good form after his Festival victory

Chianti Classico: back in good form after his fabulous win in the Ultima Chase at The Festival
Chianti Classico: back in good form after his fabulous win in the Ultima Chase at The Festival

The Festival week got off to a fine start for Tattersalls Cheltenham runners – on the first day of the meeting the well-fancied Chianti Classico won the Ultima Handicap Chase (G3) for local trainer Kim Bailey, who admitted the horse was bought with Cheltenham in mind.

After the race, Bailey said: “It’s huge for the yard, Matt my assistant and all the team at home have worked so hard on this. They believed in the horse. Sir Francis Brooke and Richard Pilkington own him, they bought him when I got him at the sales with Aiden Murphy. They have dreamt of here and we made that decision after the race at Kempton, to avoid the Racing Post Chase to come here for this race.

“When Aiden Murphy and I bought him we always said we’d run him here but I never thought it would happen. We’ve been knocking at the door here for a while so it’s great for everybody that we’ve done it today. It’s huge for the team. Having winners at Cheltenham is what it’s all about." 

On Monday morning, Bailey reported: "He has been ridden out this morning and is now out in his field, and is in good form. I don't know whether he will run again this season, he takes lot out of himself in his races."

As befits a Festival winner, Chianti Classico, who was bought by Murphy and Bailey at the Tatterslls Cheltenham Sale held at Newmarket in 2021 for £105,000 from Milestone Stables, has been spoilt rotten – as the photo from the yard shows he was given an well-deserved award of cake!

He deserves cake: Chianti Classico rewarded for his Festival success Photo from Kim Bailey Racing

Post-race jockey David Bass admitted that mid-way through the Ultima his thoughts had turned to a possible future tilt at the Gand National. 

He said: “Halfway round, I was thinking about Liverpool next year! He reminds me of The Last Samauri – he’s not over big, but he’s on springs when he jumps. He loves jumping. I’d love to have a go at that race, but we’ll see what happens between now and then.

“He’s so straightforward and he loves jumping. It was basically trying not to get there too soon, which I didn’t manage anyway! I managed to get to the front and get a breather into him, get over the last two and he had a little peck at the last, but he picked up well and I think he’s won quite well in the end.  He’s a progressive horse and exciting.”

Bailey is a strong supporter of the Cheltenham Sales. On his blog he reported that he was an underbidder on a couple of lots at the Festival Sale, while at the February Sale he successfully purchased the exciting five-year-old-winning pointer Clondaw General from Moate House Stables. 

"He is here with me and is having a 'play around' at the moment," he said, adding: "He will be unlikely to run this season and will be turned out for the summer."

Hopefully, he will be another Cheltenham runner and winner for the yard.

One for the future: Clondaw General bought by Bailey at the Cheltenham February Sale