Red-hot favourite Imperial Aura romps clear to win Northern Trust Company Novices’ Handicap Chase in penultimate race on Day One of Cheltenham Festival
Imperial Aura justified strong market support to win the Northern Trust Company Novices’ Handicap Chase for Kim Bailey and David Bass.
Second twice at Cheltenham already this season, he was sent off the clear 4-1 favourite.
For the second time in the afternoon Davy Russell turned into the straight with a double handful – this time on Galvin – but once more he had to settle for second best on the other market leader.
Imperial Aura claimed victory in the Northern Trust Company Novices’ Handicap Chase
The Kim Bailey trained horse comfortably saw off a good challenge from Galvin to win
Imperial Aura relished the climb to the line, pulling three and a quarter lengths clear. Hold The Note was third.
Imperial Aura got off to a quick start and was part of a well-stocked leading pack from early on and stayed on powerfully up the hill.
With two fences to go Imperial Aura and Precious Cargo were leading but the latter crashed at the penultimate fence, giving the Kim Bailey trained horse a clear path to the finish line.
Galvin made up some ground on the outside in a bid to throw a spanner in the works, but Aura finished strong to take a comfortable victory.
A spectator celebrates after the heavily-backed Imperial Aura’s victory at Cheltenham
Trainer Kim Bailey was delighted after receiving the trophy won by his horse Imperial Aura
Bailey – who 25 years ago landed the Champion Hurdle-Gold Cup double with Alderbrook and Master Oats – said: ‘It’s a huge relief as the anticipation has been quite high. He’s owned by a big syndicate and it’s great for them – they’ve been very excited.
‘Today has been the goal all season and it’s come off. We’ve felt all along this was his race.
‘We had to run here last time, even though we knew he wasn’t 100 per cent right. We knew he was going to improve hugely ahead of today and he’s gone and done it.
‘I hope he’ll go on to be a graded horse. He is only a baby still and he jumps very well.
‘It was a bold decision to go over fences when he had a very good hurdle career ahead of him, but he’s a chaser not a hurdler.’