Harry Fry’s five to follow
Hitting the woodwork is a term more associated with football but is one that can be used to good effect to describe the fortunes of trainer Harry Fry last term.
Unowhatimeanharry: Set for another big season
Although the Seaborough handler sent out a personal best total of 54 winners, including his first Cheltenham Festival success in his own name following the victory of Unowhatimeanharry in the Albert Bartlett, he also had to settle for second best on 53 occasions.
With last season now consigned to the history books, Fry, a former assistant to 10-times champion Paul Nicholls, is hoping he can build on his 2015-16 total by turning a large percentage of those seconds into winners over the forthcoming months.
"I had my first Cheltenham Festival winner and had more winners and more prize-money than the year before, which is always the number one target at the start of each season," said Fry.
"At same time it was a case of what might have been, as I had 53 seconds. By having all those seconds many were treated like winners.
"Horses like Sir Ivan went up a stone in the weights without winning, while I could have sworn Bags Groove won the valuable bumper at Newbury, but the photo never lies.
"Hopefully this season we can have a swing the other way, while we had a Grade One winner last year and hopefully we can get another this season."
There are likely to be plenty of winners found from his 70-plus strong team, and Fry selected five he expects to excel over the winter months:
"He could easily be three out of three. He was not beaten that far at Ascot and they pulled a long way clear of the third that day. He then had a good win at Huntingdon and was just denied in a photo in the valuable Doncaster Sales bumper at Newbury, when he was giving weight away. The slightly slower ground probably just blunted his speed that day.
"He could have one more run in the Listed bumper at Cheltenham's November meeting before going novice hurdling. We will start him over two miles as he has got plenty of speed.
"As far as bumper horses in the yard that are going novice hurdling, he would be one of the top ones. He has done lots of schooling, he just needs the rain to arrive so we can get him out schooling on the grass."
"He won at the Punchestown Festival for the second time on his final run. He relished the step up to three and a half miles. The beauty of the Punchestown win is that the timing means he remains a novice all season.
"His campaign will be geared around two races, the National Hunt Chase at the Cheltenham Festival and the Irish National. They will be his focus and we will work backwards from them.
"He will need at least a couple of runs to make sure he is spot on for both those staying races, as he just takes a bit of work to get him up to speed.
"It gives us plenty of time to have him at the top of his game when he does run. He looks well and is in great order."
"She has only run twice in bumpers. She was third on her first start, then won her second one at Doncaster where she had Kayf Grace behind her, who won at Fakenham and also the mares' bumper at Aintree, so that form has worked out well.
"She didn't run again as she had slightly sore shins. She could go to Cheltenham's November meeting for a Listed bumper and the way the form has worked out I'm tempted to give her a go in that.
"We've done well in the mares' novice hurdle division before with Bitofapuzzle and Jessber's Dream. It is a very good programme and has been a lucky route for us. Hopefully, she can continue it."
"He was a stable star for us last year and he could possibly start off in the Grade Two West Yorkshire Hurdle at Wetherby on October 29 with a view to staying over hurdles.
"He is rated 145 and clearly needs to improve again to be competitive, but he seems in good order at home.
"He is pretty versatile regards ground, while he won over two and a half as well as three miles last year so he is versatile in that regard, too.
"If he won well at Wetherby, the races pick themselves. We would then go to Newbury for the Long Distance and then to Ascot for the Long Walk.
"The couple of times he didn't run last year were probably more important than when he ran. He was supposed to go to Ffos Las before Cheltenham, but Noel (Fehily) said if you do that you will leave your season behind as the ground was desperate, while we took him out the Lanzarote when he was not quite right.
"It's a long way to go to the World Hurdle, but hopefully that is where he will head in March."
"He has won his only two starts for us in novice company over three miles and could not have won any more impressively. He is very unexposed and might be out before he loses his novice status at the end of the month.
"The plan is to go novice chasing and he should be a nice staying novice chaser as he has come from the English pointing field. He jumps very well and has taken us by surprise with what he has done on the track.
"He looks to have summered really well. It would be nice to think that he could step up to run in one of the big festival novice chase races in the spring."
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