Blazing sparks festival dream

Blazing Bailey could tackle the Royal & SunAlliance Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham after maintaining his unbeaten record at Fontwell.

Trainer Alan King had initially set his sights a little lower than the Festival but after the Mister Baileys gelding followed up on his debut win at the track last month, he was aiming higher.

Blazing Bailey jumped like a natural again in the Docker Hughes Memorial Juvenile Novices’ Hurdle and Robert Thornton’s mount had 12 lengths to spare over runner-up Flaming Weapon, with Avalon staying on to take third.

King said: “We’d been pleased with him since he made his debut and I am delighted with that. This is a horse with a great attitude. He’s not very sharp at home but he loves his jumping.

“We’ll get another run into him towards the end of the month and then we’ll look at whether we want to go to Cheltenham.

“I didn’t really think he was going to be good enough to go for those sort of races but it might come into the equation now. There is the Triumphor we might look at stepping him up in trip for the SunAlliance.”

Bookmakers Coral and VC Bet both quote the winner at 20-1, while Coral offer 25-1 for the Royal & SunAlliance Novices’ Hurdle.

Thornton completed a 10-1 double as he steered 5-2 joint-favourite He’s The Gaffer to a nine-length success over the gambled-on Matthew Muroto in the Malsar Kest Handicap Chase.

Fontwell favourite Smart Guy narrowly failed to sign off with a win when chasing home Quizzling in the Leighton Aspell Fan Club Handicap Chase.

Aspell, riding 14-year-old Smart Guy, did his best to give some cheer to the race sponsors, but Quizzling (7-2) kept pulling out enough in the home straight to hold his challenger by two and a half lengths.

Quizzling was winning for the first time in his career, but retirement now beckons for Smart Guy.

Trainer Linda Jewell said: “He has been with me since he was a three-year-old and we love him to bits. He loves Fontwell and it was right that we let him bow out here today.”

Aspell gained some immediate compensation in the following EBF ’National Hunt’ Novices’ Hurdle when the Nick Gifford-trained Dusky Lord outbattled Idris to score by three lengths.

The lightly-raced seven-year-old, who is partly owned by Racing UK television presenter Nick Luck, had been off the course with a minor injury since winning at Plumpton more than three months before.

But showing no signs of rustiness, the 11-4 chance stuck on well to leave Gifford considering the final of this contest at Sandown in March as a possible target.

“He has been having shockwave treatment which has worked well and we will have to look at going to Sandown as there won’t be many coming up the hill as strongly as this fellow,” he said.

Gifford added he only gave the winner the go-ahead to line up after walking the course before racing.

“I have said before I think there is too much racing here for a small track and there are some bare patches,” he said.

“The grass isn’t going to grow back at this time of the year and although the groundstaff have done a great job with it, there is only so much space for them to move the rails about.”

Young conditional Richard Gordon showed admirable determination to snatch victory from nowhere in the 3663 First for Food Service Selling Hurdle.

Just two days after receiving a total of 12 days worth of suspension for failing to take the correct course in a similar event at Leicester, Gordon bounced back as he brought 10-1 chance Mizinky from an impossible-looking position.

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