Fry’s star stayer back with reputation growing
Unowhatimeanharry (right): strong Cleeve Hurdle claims
PICTURE: Mark Cranham (racingpost.com/photos) Fry's star stayer back with reputation growing
By Lee Mottershead 8:00aM 28 JAN 2017
IT WAS at Cheltenham in November 2015 that Unowhatimeanharry first ran for Harry Fry. Every time he has returned his reputation has been considerably bigger. The same is true on Saturday afternoon.
It was off a lowly mark of just 123 that Unowhatimeanharry made a winning debut for Fry. He has done nothing but win for him ever since. At last season's festival he became a Grade 1 champion for the trainer's racing club and since being acquired by JP McManus he has won twice more, including last time in the Long Walk Hurdle, taking his rating up to 167.
The nine-year-old, who is the best-priced 11-4 favourite for the Sun Bet Stayers' Hurdle, now seeks to make it eight wins in a row. However, to strengthen his position at the head of the market he must win a Cleeve Hurdle that has attracted an unusually large field.
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"Unowhatimeanharry thrived on racing last season and is thriving on it again this season," said Fry. "I suppose on ratings he is entitled to be odds-on, and he does have good form with many in the field."
He also faces some serious rivals, including Ballyoptic, who was far from beaten when coming down at the final flight in the Long Walk, at which the reopposing West Approach also departed having run a huge race. Ballyoptic is now 4lb better off with Unowhatimeanharry, while West Approach takes on the market leader on 6lb more favourable terms.
Ballyoptic's trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies said: "He has been very unlucky. He looked like he could win or be second in two hurdles when he has fallen at the last, basically through no fault of his own.
"Now he is getting 4lb from Unowhatimeanharry he must have every chance."
A fascinating renewal also features 2015 World Hurdle hero Cole Harden, while previous Cleeve winners Knockara Beau and Reve De Sivola are in the line-up.
Unowwhatimeanharry is the 11-10 favourite, while Ballyoptic is next best at 4-1. It is 14-1 bar the pair.
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