Harry Fry: Why we're sending a small team to Aintree this year
The leading National Hunt trainer reflects on his Easter weekend in Ireland and talks through his plans ahead of a high-profile week of racing.
The past 10 days or so have been pretty quiet for us. The weather isn’t improving and it’s frustrating for everyone.
Lightning strikes twice
We couldn’t believe that lightning struck twice when Lamanver Odyssey lost the valuable mares’ series final at Haydock in the stewards’ room the week before last.
That was exactly two years on from when her full sister, Lady Of Lamanver, was also demoted to second in the EBF mares’ final at Newbury.
Both mares are owned by the same people and the coincidence that the only two races I’ve lost in the stewards’ room in my career have been with theirs is unreal.
At least it showed that Lamanver Odyssey is back in good form and we’ll probably now look at a valuable handicap at Cheltenham or Ayr next week.
As there wasn’t any racing on over here, we went to Ireland for a few days, looking at horses and visiting my wife Ciara’s family in Limerick.
Kylemore Lough ran in the Grade 2 chase at Fairyhouse on Easter Monday, but the ground was almost unraceable and he didn’t handle it.
He came out of it fine and we’ll drop him back into handicap company next time.
There are some decent prizes in May, so we may look at something for him then, but nothing is set in stone.
Small squad for Aintree
We’re not going to have a big team going up to Aintree this year unfortunately, we’ll probably be sending more to Punchestown at the end of the month.
It’s a really fun meeting and there will be some great racing as the prize money is fantastic.
Thursday’s card looks particularly good and we’ll be watching closely if we’re not competing.
We’ve decided to pitch Air Horse One into Grade 1 level in the Betway Aintree Hurdle rather than running off top weight in a handicap.
It’s obviously going to be a tough assignment for him against Buveur D’Air , but we’ll give it a shot and he’s versatile ground-wise.
Overtown Express could run in the Red Rum Handicap Chase on Thursday, while we’re also looking at a handicap hurdle for Golden Birthday on Friday.
However, he wouldn’t want it too soft, so if it’s slow we might wait and go for a valuable Flat handicap at Newbury the following Friday.
I’ll be giving my thoughts on all the races at Aintree each day this week.
Set for Punchestown
Punchestown has been a lucky track for us in the past and we’ll be sending a few over there.
Unowhatimeanharry won the Stayers’ Hurdle there last year and he’ll be back to defend his title.
He didn’t turn up at Cheltenham, so we’re hoping he can recapture his form, but we’re going there more in hope than expectation.
American is entered in the Punchestown Gold Cup and if conditions stay soft, we’d look to take him as well.
He’s in good form and we’ll just have to see how the ground is nearer the time.
Looking ahead to next season
With the weather the way it is we’ve already got one eye on next season.
We’ve been recruiting lots of horses and have got plenty to run in bumpers over the next week or so.