© Photo Healy Racing
First Flow could be a rare British-trained runner in Ireland this season with Kim Bailey considering Punchestown or Sandown for his Champion Chase sixth.
Bailey is keen to go back right-handed with the Clarence House Chase winner, who was beaten six and a half lengths by Put The Kettle On.
“He will go, if the ground is suitable, for either the Celebration Chase or to Punchestown. He has improved so much this season and seems a bit more versatile with the ground,” said Bailey.
“If the Champion Chase was run at Ascot, he would have won. David (Bass) struggled to steer him around Cheltenham and he really struggled to handle the bends there, but that was always going to be the worry we had.
“At one point down the back straight it looked as though he was going to be pulled up, so how he has got back to finish where he did in sixth I don’t know, but it was a fantastic effort.”
Having taken his strongest team ever to Cheltenham, Bailey left empty handed, but he was enthused by the performances of Vinndication (sixth) and Younevercall (eighth) in the Stayers’ Hurdle.
Of the former, Bailey said: “If you take all the Irish runners out of the race, he was second to Paisley Park! The problem with him is he jumps most of his hurdles like fences and that has happened as most of his schooling has been over fences, which he will be going back over next season.
“There is nothing to really run him in over fences and I think it would be too tight for him over fences at Aintree. The only other race is the bet365 Gold Cup, but he won’t be going for that, so he will go for the three-mile hurdle at Aintree.”
Bailey added: “The plan is to go for the Sandown race he won two years ago. He ran a smashing race in the Stayers’ Hurdle. Half-way down the hill we started to get a bit excited.”
Ultima runner-up Happygolucky could run in either a handicap or Grade One over three miles at Aintree, but Imperial Aura, who pulled up in the Ryanair, is finished for the season.
“Unfortunately Imperial Aura broke a blood vessel in the Ryanair and he will now be roughed off for the season,” said Bailey.
“He was out of his comfort zone from the word go, but I think even if he was on song he wouldn’t have won that race as they went so fast. I think we will probably look to step him up in trip to three miles next year.”