FIRST FLOW (2.25) can bounce back in style in the Matchbook Imperial Cup at Sandown Park today.
Kim Bailey's runner has been off the scene - and off the radar - since being pulled up in the Supreme Novices a year ago, but this looks a perfect opportunity to pick up the winning thread again. Bailey - a bit like Willie Mullins and Dermot Weld in Ireland - invariably has them perfectly primed to score first time back after a long absence and he looks sure to go mighty close for regular partner David Bass.
Snapped up for just £4,500 at Tattersalls Derby Sale, he looked nothing special at all when fourth in two bumpers. But he was a revelation when switching to hurdles, rattling up an impressive hat trick when skating home at Lingfield, Newbury and Haydock Park.
On the strength of that he had every right to take his place in the Supreme Novices where he was very much in the mix at half way having disputed the lead earlier. However the wheels came off a bit, he jumped right at the fourth last, lost his place and was pulled up. Soft or heavy ground suits, so any intentions of going over fences was clearly off the agenda with the unseasonably fast ground we had all Winter.
With freshness on his side he looks a key player here if back to anything like his best. The 160 rated Call Me Lord stands his ground with 11 - 12, Bailey's charge runs off 10 - 10 here and can certainly make his presence felt.
Call Me Lord loves this track, and was just touched off in this race last year. He clearly didn't stay the trip in the Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot, but back over a more suitable distance now at his favourite place, he's well worth a second glance. Track and trip winner Monsieur Lecoq has, like a few of these, been nibbled at for the County Hurdle next Friday but make no mistake today is very much the day for him. Slightly wrong perhaps at the weights but a big player.
Paul Nicholls can do little wrong right now and while Malaya had jumping problems earlier in the season, she seems to be in fair form now. But First Flow can be first past the post!
1/2 Point Each Way First Flow (12/1 generally, look for bookies paying 5 places)
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