Kim Bailey’s Vinndication will resume his career over fences when he contests the Grade Three Bateaux London Gold Cup Handicap Chase at Ascot on Saturday.
The eight-year-old won the same race in 2019 having made a successful step into the staying chase division, but he unseated his rider in the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury last season and was then sent hurdling again for the latter end of the campaign.
A return to jumping fences is now imminent as the gelding makes his seasonal reappearance at Ascot, a track he is unbeaten round having won on all three of his starts there.
“He’s always run well at Ascot and I’m very happy with him,” Bailey said.
“He’s back over fences as he was running over hurdles for the second half of last season.
“He probably has better form at Ascot rather than anywhere else, which is my reason for going back there.”
Dan Skelton has two chances of claiming the three-mile contest, with veterans Captain Chaos and Bennys King both in the mix.
Both horses have Ascot form, as the 10-year-old Captain Chaos was victorious in the Listed Swinley Chase last season and Bennys King has never been unplaced in four career starts there.
“The pair of them are very similar,” Skelton said.
“They are a bit older at 10 years old and historically they have always needed a run or two in their season to get going.
“I don’t see this being any different, the only thing is Bennys King is very good round Ascot and so is Captain Chaos, and he has got no weight, so that gives them a little each-way chance.
“I’m presuming they will improve an awful lot for the run because they normally do in the season.”
Regal Encore, the winner of the race last year, will line up again for Anthony Honeyball and Tom Lacey’s Johnbb is also entered after placing in Grade Three company last season.
Skelton also has a chance in the the Byrne Group Handicap Chase, with Amoola Gold the mount of Bridget Andrews.
The gelding won the Listed tote.co.uk Handicap Chase at the track last term and was narrowly beaten in the Hurst Park Handicap Chase, though at 146 he is now rated significantly higher than he was at the time of those two performances.
“I think he’s got a nice chance, he’s good around the track,” said Skelton.
“He’s got a higher mark than he did last year but that’s what we’ve got to live with. I’ll certainly give him a chance.”
Bailey is represented through One For Rosie, who is making his seasonal bow.
The grey switched from Nigel Twiston-Davies’ yard to Bailey’s in February and subsequently went chasing, winning twice in two-mile novice events to tally a thus-far unbeaten record over fences.
“It’s probably a fraction too short, two miles, but it’s very hard to find races for him,” Bailey said.
“We did think about going to Wetherby, but we were slightly worried about the Wetherby ground. They’ve had rain at Ascot last week so the ground looked better.
“It was either Ascot or Exeter, it’s a big step up from what he was running in last season.”
Elsewhere in the race Gary Moore’s Editeur Du Gite looks to pick up where he left off last season and claim a third consecutive win, with Honeyball’s Sully D’Oc also back in action after ending his campaign in good form in April.
Ajero will represent Bailey in the Listed Bateaux London Handicap Hurdle on the same Ascot card, with the gelding last seen finishing seventh in the Grade One Top Novices’ Hurdle at Aintree in April following a four-race unbeaten run.
“He’s matured and grown a bit over the summer,” the trainer said.
“He’s in a very good place, I’m very happy with him, but equally I think he will improve for the run.
“He’s been pleasing us at home anyway.”