Published 2021/02/22

Having claimed last seasons Listed Northern Trust Company Novices Handicap Chase, which has been switched to Sandown Park this year, the improving eight-year-old will bid to make his Grade One debut a triumphant one in the two mile and a half-mile contest on Thursday, 18th March, day three of The Festival.

Imperial Aura made the perfect start to this season after following up victory on his return in the Listed Colin Parker Memorial Intermediate Chase at Carlisle on 1st November with a first Grade Two success in the Chanelle Pharma 1965 Chase at Ascot just under three weeks later.

The son of Kalanisis unbeaten record this season came to an end on his most recent start when failing to complete for the first time in his career after unseating David Bass at the second fence at the Sunbury track in the Grade Two Silviniaco Conti Chase on 9th January.

Bailey said:

"Everything is good with Imperial Aura and he remains on course for the Ryanair. He did his first piece of work since the Kempton race last week and that all went very well. He has been schooling at home and that was pleasing as well.

"I don't believe it was anything else at Kempton bar, something just catching his eye going into the fence, and David Bass feels that is all it was as well. We are happy with his jumping.

Bailey will wait until nearer the time before making a decision which route stablemate Vinndication will take at the Festival.

The eight-year-old, who has not been sighted since unseating in the Grade Three Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury in November, holds Grade One entries in both the Paddy Power Stayers Hurdle and the WellChild Cheltenham Gold Cup.

He added: "Vinndication is good though we are not making a decision where he goes yet. He has entries in the Gold Cup, Stayers Hurdle and I imagine he will be entered in the Ultima which he was fourth in last season.

"He came back lame after Newbury and I would have preferred it if he would have run at Ascot at the weekend but that didnt quite happen.

"He worked the other week and that all seemed fine.