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Last Updated: Monday, 9 April 2007, 18:17 GMT 19:17 UK
Bailey buoyant ahead of Aintree
Cornelius Lysaght
By Cornelius Lysaght
BBC racing correspondent

Gloucestershire County Council need not worry about sweeping the lanes around the Cotswold village of Andoversford in future.

Trainer Kim Bailey, who recently moved his operation to the area, has promised to brandish his own broom for the task after a loose stone threatened to scupper his Grand National dreams.

Exactly a fortnight before the race, Longshanks, the horse charged with bringing the glory days back to the recently down-at-heel stable, trod on the sharp stone following a routine exercise, injuring a foot.

Kim Bailey at his stables near Andoversford in Gloucestershire
Bailey is enjoying life at his stables near Cheltenham

"Everything had been going well, but then I walked passed Longshanks' box and saw him holding a leg up," explained Bailey, 53, trainer of 1990 Aintree hero Mr Frisk.

"I can only compare it to you or me getting a splinter under a nail, so pretty painful. The vets cut out what was left of the stone, and we've treated the wound, and thankfully everything now seems okay."

Several "unrepeatable expletives and a large drink" helped to ease the trainer's shock, but inevitably he wondered if this wasn't just the latest in a run of bad luck to have afflicted him.

In the years after Mr Frisk, Kim Bailey was one of the very biggest players in jump racing: successful, popular, and happy.

606: DEBATE

From sumptuous stables in the Lambourn racing centre in Berkshire, he saddled a string of top quality winners, and completed the rare Champion Hurdle/Gold Cup double at the 1995 Cheltenham Festival.

But then came a marriage break-up, a disastrous move to a base in Northamptonshire and, most importantly, a dearth of winners.

In racecourse bars around the country the perceived wisdom abounded that: "Poor old Kim, nice fellow, but sadly he's forgotten how to train."

So, now re-invented in a smaller, rented yard at Andoversford near Cheltenham and with a new wife and baby son at his side, Bailey has a point to prove at Aintree.

All we need now is a bit of luck

Longshanks' trainer Kim Bailey

"It has been really hard over the last few years, seeing other people win lots of good races," he said, "and me just looking on from a distance.

"Things have not gone well as I'd hoped and we haven't had a lot of luck but I've never given up hope or been so determined to get back, and Longshanks could well be the horse to do it.

"He's jumped around the big fences in the Topham Chase twice (2nd in 2004 and 4th in 2005) and has the right man for the job in Tony Dobbin (the winner on Lord Gyllene, 1997) on board."

Emotion etched on his face and in his eyes, he added: "All we need now is a bit of luck."

That bit of luck eluded Bailey on Monday when Dobbin injured his right arm in a fall from Cloudy Lane in the Irish Grand National.

The jockey may miss the race, but the trainer's fortune is due a change.

If it does, perhaps Bailey can discard his broom for a while and search out a bottle bank for all the celebratory empties.



SEE ALSO
Longshanks recovers after scare
02 Apr 07 |  Horse Racing


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