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Allez Encore can deliver again for resurgent Bailey at Newbury

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Kim Bailey

Kim Bailey

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Kim Bailey is flying again after a difficult period

Kim Bailey is flying again after a difficult period

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Kim Bailey

Ever since Mr Frisk (16/1) held off Durham Edition to win the 1990 Aintree Grand National under amateur jockey Marcus Armytage, I've had a soft spot for Kim Bailey-trained horses.

I may have mentioned it before, but it was the first and only time I've managed to pick the winner of the world's greatest steeplechase (which I probably should be ashamed to admit).

I was a year younger than the 11-year-old Mr Frisk at the time, and the only reason I picked him was because the trainer shared my surname. That's as good a selection method as any in the National I suppose. I've watched the race recently on YouTube. Mr Frisk won in eight minutes and 47.8 seconds - a record time which still stands.

Bailey enjoyed a great spell in the 1990s and I'm sure my colleague Richard Forristal, who rode for Bailey for quite some time, could tell you a lot more about the stable than an armchair jockey like me who can barely climb up on a horse.

Sadly, though, Bailey went though some difficult times both professionally and personally and by the mid-noughties, his strike rate was at an all-time low. In 2007 for example, Bailey had only five winners from 115 runners, a win rate of just 4pc. Not long before, he had sold up and moved to Gloucestershire and was pretty much starting again from scratch.

But Bailey has bounced right back in recent years and horses like Harry Topper have really put him back on the map. In 2014, he had 55 winners from 266 runners, and that strike rate of 21pc has been maintained in 2015.

This year's victories include the surprise Cheltenham Festival winner Darna at 33/1. To cut a long story short, punters should give Bailey's horses careful consideration - even if you exclude Darna, his animals show a small profit if blindly backed this year.

Import

One which I've been keeping a close eye on is the Irish import Allez Encore, which is generally available at 16/1 in this afternoon's EBF Stallions & TBA Mares' 'National Hunt' Novices' Hurdle Finale at Newbury (2.35), a Listed limited handicap.

Formerly housed with James Barcoe in Kilkenny, the six-year-old has won two of her three starts in Britain for Bailey, kicking off with a win on her hurdling debut at Plumpton in early February. A couple of weeks later, she followed up with a win in a mares' novices' hurdle in which she battled hard under a penalty.

On March 4, she had to carry a double penalty in a similar race at Catterick and ran with plenty of credit to come second to Debdebdeb. While the even-money favourite Molasses failed to fire in that race, it was a good display considering two miles around a sharp track was unlikely to bring out the best in her.

I'm convinced that the step up in trip to two miles and five furlongs will work in her favour, and the word from the yard is that Bailey has had this race in mind for some time.

At the prices, she's hardly a dead cert but if you want a good run for your money and the chance of a big return for a small outlay, look no further.

Each-way

A small enough field of eight goes to post for the Doom Bar Juvenile Handicap Hurdle at Newbury (3.45), but it's not a bad race for an each-way bet and Storm Force Ten could be the one to side with here at 15/2.

The Andrew Balding-trained gelding was a useful sort on the flat and shaped well on his hurdling debut in December to finish second to Biouac, which he's since beaten at Cheltenham last time. An early mark of 123 leaves the four-year-old with plenty of scope to improve.

Today's selections

1.25 Newbury: King's Tempest

2.05 Stratford: Gold Present

2.35 Newbury: Allez Encore

3.45 Newbury: Storm Force Ten (e/w)

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