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Press Release 12th March 2024 Cheltenham


Tuesday 12th March

Local trainer Kim Bailey and jockey David Bass were back in the winner’s enclosure for the first time in four years when Chianti Classico won today’s Ultima Handicap Chase.

David Bass told ITV Racing: “Obviously we had two in the race and when the rain came this morning, I was panicking I had the wrong one! But I knew I was on the right one.

“What a lovely horse. He just travelled everywhere, jumped, I was going round thinking, ‘there’s a big race at Liverpool that I would love to ride him in next year!’

“I got past Paddy going down the hill and he said to me to go on. I thought, ‘I’ve got to try and  fill up’, because the ground is bad, but he’s done it well in the end. I was there miles too soon, but he’s got a touch of class. It’s brilliant for the owners, brilliant for the yard. We’ve been a bit quiet, but we can get them to the big day in good form.

“It meant a lot – it’s quite a good feeling winning here! It’s an absolute privilege to ride good horses here. I’m so lucky. It’s hard to win here, 2020 was the last time I rode a winner here – that’s too long.”

The jockey added: “It’s an amazing feeling. I will be honest, I made the decision pretty quickly to ride him, and then the rain came yesterday and this morning, and I was starting to doubt my decision. I hope Trelawne is alright - I didn’t realise he fell, and he’s a very good horse. I hope he’s alright and can go again next year. I thought I’d made the right decision, and then once I’d jumped a few I was confident. 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 pecck 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.

“Halfway round, I was thinking about Liverpool next year. He reminds me of The Last Samauri - he’s not overbig, 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.


“Between Kim, the rest of the team and Matt, the assistant, we try and get it right for the big days. We’ve been quiet numberwise this season and it’s been really frustrating. I’ve never lost faith in the team to get a good horse ready for the big day. Kim and I are very honest with each other; he leaves me to it now and maybe that’s why it works.

“It’s been too long [since he was last in the Festival winner’s enclosure] - that feeling’s the best feeling in the world. Riding horses here, good horses, is a privilege but I know how hard it is to win here. I should have ridden more Festival winners than I did - I probably should have ridden a couple for Nicky Henderson when I was a claimer quite a few years ago now, and it took me too long to get one on the board. I know how hard it is and I really appreciate it.”

Kim Bailey told ITV Racing: “It was not a great race to watch, I have a huge amount of thought for Trelawne and his owners, as it had been a difficult decision to run. When I saw him stand up on three legs, I was really worried – I didn’t watch the first circuit at all, as I spent my entire time watching him. Then when I saw he was sound and absolutely fine, the runners were going past him – and then David Bass make a horrendous mistake and I thought, ‘my God, he’s getting too brave’. From there onwards, he (Chianti Classico) got back in the race. David has ridden a fantastic race on him. They always ride fantastic races when they win, but he was very confident before the race.”

Asked what it means to be back scoring at the Cheltenham Festival, Bailey said: “It’s huge. 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.”

The trainer went on to say: “I thought my other horse (Trelawne) had broken his leg when he came down at the second, so I spent the first half of the race looking to see that he was okay (he was), but this horse jumped for fun apart from a big mistake at the top of the hill, and he was cantering down the hill. David has been confident all along and he was right. He adores this horse and says he’s a big terrier. He’s as hard as nails. He’s not very big but he’s got so much ability and he’s so agile and always has been.

“When Aiden Murphy and I bought him we always said we’d ring 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. The owners are big supporters of racing and Sir Francis Brooke is the King’s representative at Ascot. This has been the plan for a long time. After he was second at Kempton we hummed and hahed about the Racing  Post Chase but they said Cheltenham is what we bought him for and Cheltenham is where we’ll go.

“David’s ridden a fantastic race on him. They always ride fantastic races when they win, but he was very confident before the race.

Sir Francis Brooke, joint-owner, told ITV Racing: “Huge win, and for my friend Richard Pilkington. He jumped beautifully and David rode a spectacular race. He loves the horse and has ridden so many winners for us, it’s just the most exciting afternoon.”

Richard Pilkington, joint-owner, told ITV Racing: “It’s every dream come true, apart from personal things of course! It was fantastic.

“Oh my God what a thrill! Come racing, it’s a wonderful sport and you can get this thrill – all of us who backed him, owned him, have been in touch with this horse, it happens to everyone.”

Beau Morgan, rider of runner-up Twig, said: “This morning we were debating even running this horse. He wants better ground, and I rang my mum and my brother, and spoke to Ben, and we said, he might need the run, he won’t like the ground, we can prep him for Aintree - and he’s run like that. Second four times round here now on him, but for my first ever race at teh Festival, to come second, I’m absolutely delighted.”

Ben Pauling, trainer of runner-up Twig, said: “I’m delighted I didn’t think he’d go a yard on the ground. Beau just gave him a lovely ride, had him in the right position the whole way. It’s his first ride at the Festival,  and if I am completely honest, if it hadn’t been I’d have pulled the horse out this morning. This place - you just never know, so you  have to roll the dice and see how you go. He will be a lot better on better ground, so that was a hell of a prep run.”


2.50pm Ultima Handicap Chase (Premier Handicap) 3m1f

1 Chianti Classico 6-1

2 Twig 28-1

3 Meetingofthewaters 6-1

4 Famous Bridge 25/1

21 ran

Distances: 4½, 1¼, 16

Time: 6m 55.79s

4th winner at The Festival for jockey David Bass

6th winner at The Festival for trainer Kim Bailey


Ireland 2

Great Britain 1


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