Kim Bailey’s Vinndication will resume his career on the fences when he competes in the Bateaux London Gold Cup Handicap Chase in Ascot on Saturday.
The eight-year-old won the same race in 2019 after making a successful stride in the survival chase division, but knocked out his rider at the Ladbrokes Cup in Newbury last season and was sent off again for the final end of the season.
A return to fence-jumping is imminent now as the eunuch makes his seasonal appearance at Ascot, an unbeaten track after winning all three of his starts there.
“He always plays well at Ascot and I’m very happy with him,” Bailey said.
“He’s back over the fences where he was running over the hurdles in the second half of last season.
“Maybe he had a better level at Ascot and nowhere else, which is why I’m back there.”
Dan Skelton has two chances to claim the three-mile competition, with both veterans Captain Chaos and Bennis King in attendance.
Both horses have the shape of an Ascot, with 10-year-old Captain Chaos being the victor on Swinley Chase’s roster last season and the Pennys King has never missed a spot in four of his career starts there.
“The pair are very similar,” Skelton said.
“They are a little bit older at the age of 10 and historically they have always needed a run or two in their season to get ahead.
“I don’t see it being any different, the only thing is that Bennis King is very good on the Ascot Tour and so is Captain Chaos, he doesn’t have any weight, and that gives them a little chance in every direction.
“I suppose they will improve a lot in running because they usually do in season.”
Regal Encore, last year’s race winner, will again line up with Anthony Honeyball and Tom Lacey’s Johnbb was also entered after being placed in third tier company last season.
Skelton also has a chance at hunting down the Byrne Group Handicap Chase, with Amoola Gold on Bridget Andrews mountain.
The eunuch won the Listed tote.co.uk Handicap Chase at the last track and narrowly lost at Hurst Park Handicap Chase, although at 146 he is now much higher than he was at the time of these two performances.
“I think he has a good chance, he’s good in the track,” said Skelton.
“He got a higher mark than he did last year but that’s what we have to live with. I will definitely give him a chance.”
Bailey is represented by One For Rosie, who makes his seasonal arc.
Gray switched from Nigel Twiston Davis to Bailey Yard in February, then went to the chase, winning twice in the two-mile junior events to set an unbeaten record on the fences.
“It’s probably a very short distance, two miles, but it’s very difficult to find races for him,” Bailey said.
“We had considered going to Wetherby, but we were a little worried about Wetherby ground. It rained in Ascot last week so the ground looked better.
“It was either Ascot or Exeter, it’s a big step up from what he was managing last season.”
Elsewhere in the race, Gary Moore’s Editeur Du Gite is looking to pick up where he left off last season and claim his third win in a row, with Honeyball’s Sully D’Oc also back in action after finishing his campaign well in April.
Ajero Bailey will be represented on the Bateaux London Handicap Hurdle on the same card as Ascot, with enriched for the last time in seventh in the entry-level hurdles at Aintree in April after a streak of four unbeaten races.
“He has matured and grown quite a bit over the summer,” said the coach.
“He’s in a very good place, and I’m very happy with him, but I also think he will get better for running.
“We were happy at home anyway.”