by Richard Birch
All change please. That is the theme of things for the Harry Fry operation this season.
Fry’s string have moved from Seaborough to new purpose-built quarters in Higher Crockermoor, and there has been a total refresh of the new yard’s inhabitants. A lot of the old guard have made way for 20 new bumper horses and 18 maiden hurdlers as Fry attempts to find the next wave of stars.
„We’re treating it very much as a fresh start and a new chapter. Results haven’t quite been what we’ve been striving to achieve over the last few years so we’ve pressed the reboot button and I’m really looking forward to the season ahead.„
One old-timer remains, recent Aintree scorer Unowhatimeanharry, while If The Cap Fits is very much the new flagbearer. Fry’s hope is that this season reveals the next.
Where Corscombe, Dorset
Started training October 18, 2012
Horses in yard 75
Members of staff 30
Head lad Rawal Singh
Assistant trainer Ciara Fry
Pupil assistant trainer Nathan Vergne
Travelling head lad Tim Dennis
Jockey Sean Bowen
Conditional Lorcan Murtagh
Racing secretary Jo Donoghue
Stable sponsor Citipost
Winners in Britain
Profit/loss to £1 stake
Total prize-money 2019-20
King’s Theatre (sire) – Darrens Lass (dam)
Owner: Nigel & Barbara Collison
Form figures: P912P-P
Racing Post Rating: 154c Official rating: 149c
He’s a real mudlark. After he won the Welsh National Trial at Chepstow last season, we were going to aim him for the real thing this time around, but he stopped very quickly at Bangor on his reappearance and was found to have a breathing problem. He’ll have surgery this week and we’ll hopefully get him back on the track in January when he’ll be eligible for veterans‘ chases.
5g Presenting – Oyster Pipit
Brian & Sandy Lambert
RPR 126b OR 109b
His won his only start for me in a strong-looking Kempton bumper at the backend of the season and the form seems to be working out well, with a number of those behind him winning over hurdles. He was slightly later getting going but is one we’re looking forward to over hurdles. We’ll start him over two miles in a few weeks.
7g Gold Well – Dontcallerthat
Phil Fry & Charlie Walker -Osborne House
RPR 130h OR 132h
He’ll go chasing this season. He’s always been a bit too free for his own good, but he’s doing plenty of schooling at home and should have a bit more respect for fences. He certainly has the size and look of a chaser so we’re hoping he can transition successfully. I’d think we’ll start off over two miles.
7g Getaway – Julika
Gary Stevens and Brian and Sandy Lambert
RPR 142h 143c OR 142h 142c
He’s been in and out over fences, but he did win at Exeter on New Year’s Day and was a valiant runner-up in the Midlands National. I was pleasantly surprised he made a winning return over hurdles at Uttoxeter, but then his run at Cheltenham last weekend was a lot like his first run over fences last season. We’d been very much training him with the Welsh National in mind as he’s an out-and-out stayer who loves to see the mud fly, but we’ll put him back over hurdles first to try to get his confidence back.
9g Presenting – Dusty Too
John P McManus
RPR 149c OR 129
He returned to us after a spell in Ireland, but hasn’t been the force of old. He finished third at Fontwell, but didn’t back that up at Aintree. We’ll probably try him in calmer waters, although I’ve given him an entry at Ascot on Friday as he’s run well there.
If The Cap Fits
8g Milan – Derravargh Sayra
Simon Munir & Isaac Souede
RPR 157c OR 160c
We were disappointed to see him beaten at Sandown, particularly with the allowances we were getting, but we learned more in defeat than we would if he’d won. To go around Sandown on only his second run over fences and jump well is encouraging, and we’ll probably drop him back in trip slightly now. He’s a Grade 1 winner over hurdles and still a very exciting novice chaser – if he replicates his hurdles form he could be among the top novices.
6m Scorpion – Loxhill Lady
The Horse Flys Partnership
RPR 117b OR –
She’s got a real engine, as everyone saw when she ‚won‘ her second bumper at Cheltenham last weekend. It’s great to have her back as she slipped a tendon off her hock last season and had been off for over 600 days before winning at Uttoxeter. She can only run in bumpers until the end of this year but might go to Huntingdon for a Listed mares‘ bumper in December. We won that a few years ago with Bitofapuzzle, who went on to win the Grade 1 mares‘ novice at Fairyhouse, and we hope this one can follow in her footsteps – she’s very talented.
Jolly’s Cracked It
11g Astarabad – Jolly Harbour
RPR 147h OR 132h
He’s getting on but he’s slipped in the weights and ran encouragingly for a long way at Aintree over two and a half miles – he’s never won over that trip and didn’t quite see it out. He’ll go for a Listed handicap hurdle at Sandown in early December and we’ll hope for very soft ground.
Just A Sting
8g Scorpion – Shannan Lady
Nigel & Barbara Collison
RPR 141c OR 135c
He was fourth in the Badger Beers first time out last year so we had that race in mind for him for a while, but the ground was too quick and he never let himself down. Now we’ve had the rain, it should be in his favour.
6g Stowaway – Kiltiernan Robin
Masterson Holdings Limited
RPR 137c OR 140c
He made his debut over fences at Uttoxeter over two miles and jumped very well, but he can be too exuberant for his own good sometimes. He just needs to learn to be a bit more professional and we’ll step him up in trip as and when he learns to settle better. We’ve always held him in high regard and I hope there’s better to come.
6g Poet’s Voice – Zuleika Dobson
J Davies and Govier and Brown
RPR 140h OR 137h
He really found his mojo last season and again looked like he was there with every chance in the Welsh Champion Hurdle but didn’t see his race out. It transpired his wind was catching him so he’s had his soft palate done and hopefully he’ll be back in time for Christmas when he should get his favoured soft ground and contest more good handicap hurdles.
7m – Soldier Of Fortune – Cigalia
John P McManus
RPR 137c OR 138c
She had a good novice chase campaign last season but is slightly in no man’s land now. I’m not sure she’s quite good enough for Listed races and she’s plenty high enough in the ratings.
4g Mastercraftsman – We’ll Go Walking
G C Stevens
RPR 132h OR –
I was really pleased with his jumping when he won on his debut at Newton Abbot. We’ll now find another novice before stepping up in grade and I’d expect him to get better as he goes through the grades and gets a more strongly run race. He’s an exciting novice hurdler.
5g Milan – Silent Whisper
The Jago Family Partnership
RPR 111h OR 113h
His win at Newton Abbot came off just 107, but we feel he can be progressive this season and could be one to follow. He’s only five and a fine big horse. He’s shown considerable signs of inexperience so I hope there’s better to come.
6m Stowaway – Whisky Rose
RPR 114h OR 112h
She had three starts over hurdles last year and finished second every time, but she wasn’t at her best and we think she can be progressive off her mark. If she can reproduce her bumper form over hurdles this season she’s another to follow.
8m Sholokhov – Missing Link
Holt, Clark, Macnabb, Nugent & Robinson
RPR 140h OR 132h
She’s been a bit out in the wilderness, but she’s finally put two runs together back-to-back – albeit nearly a year apart – and it was an encouraging return at Newton Abbot. Now she’s confident again in her jumping, I hope we can build on that and get her head in front. She’s in a mares‘ novice chase at Huntingdon on Saturday.
7g Fair Mix – Ifni Du Luc
John P McManus
RPR 133c OR 126c
He took longer than we thought to get off the mark over fences but he’s pretty versatile ground-wise. He wants three miles.
Over To Sam
9g Black Sam Bellamy – Lady Brig
The Jago Family Partnership
RPR 136c OR 133c
He’s lightly raced for a nine-year-old and will be ideal for veterans‘ races from the turn of the year. In the meantime we’ll be looking at stiff, proper staying chases and we know he can be competitive off his mark.
7g Stowaway – Arcuate
John P McManus
RPR 141h OR 140h
He was found to have a fibrillating heart 48 hours before the Pertemps, having qualified well for that race. That’s all behind him and he’s set to go chasing. He runs at Warwick on Wednesday and we’ll find out if he’s a good novice chaser or if we’re going down the handicap route.
6g Malinas – Samandara
Charlie Walker & Phil Fry -Osborne House
RPR 133c OR 133c
He’s talented but has his own ideas about the game. He missed most of last season through injury but all being well he’ll be ready to resume in January. The whole family is bred to jump fences and he’s no different.
10g Midnight Legend – Tisho
The Eyre Family
RPR 139h 143c OR 135h 135c
He’s hard to place as he’s too consistent for his own good. He ran another good race over hurdles at Aintree on his return giving a lot of weight to two much younger horses. He’s eligible for veterans‘ chases and we might just give him one more try over fences in one at Leicester at the end of the month and see if we can get his head in front again.
12g Sir Harry Lewis – Red Nose Lady
John P McManus
RPR 166h OR 151h
It was great to see him saunter into the lead at Aintree and win again. He owes us nothing but Mr McManus decided to bring him back and he was absolutely spot on. You wouldn’t know he’s rising 13 and he’s bounced out of the race. I suppose we’ll work towards the Pertemps now and let him tell us if he’s still up for it, but the signs are that he’s very much still in love with the game.
6m Milan – Mhuire Na Gale
Chasing Gold Racing Club
RPR 129h OR 130h
She had a good campaign in novice hurdles last year once she learned to put her jumping together. She loves proper soft ground and it wasn’t soft enough for her first time out over two miles – she got outpaced and stayed on. She didn’t appear to stay further last year, but she’s a year older so we’ll give it another go.
6g Flemensfirth – Baliya
Jago And Allhusen
RPR 130h OR 135h
He fell on his chase debut, which was frustrating as he’d schooled as well as any of our novice chasers. He was a little battered and bruised and he’s taken a little while to get over that. We’ve always thought of him as a chaser and we’ll be looking to resume again over fences, subject to how he schools. I think there’s more to come.
Two for the tracker
I’d be very disappointed if we couldn’t get a few wins out of Boothill, and King Roland is another who should be worth following this season.
If you need a reminder of what Harry Fry can do with a horse look no further than Lightly Squeeze.
The gelding had disappointed in four starts over hurdles off marks between 108 and 112 when he was sent to Wincanton on Boxing Day last year. Judged on those previous defeats, he appealed as one to oppose at short odds, but looked a totally different horse and duly bolted up.
A fortnight later Lightly Squeeze had completed a hat-trick and in early February he was still in front when he fell at the final flight in Newbury’s Betfair Hurdle, one of the most competitive handicaps of the season, off 137.
It’s a season of building and transition for Fry, but loveable veteran Unowhatimeanharry has already given the team a boost with his Aintree victory, and If The Cap Fits promises to take high rank over fences.
The yard sent out 67 winners during 2016-17 for total prize-money earnings of £886,752, a time when Unowhatimeanharry was regularly plying his trade in top staying events and memories of Rock On Ruby’s exploits were still fresh in the mind.
Fry will get back to the big time. It’s just a matter of when. King Roland could be one to herald the comeback.