Harry Fry: Bags Groove can defy another rise in weights
The leading trainer says his one ride of the weekend can be competitive provided the rain stays away, and gives the latest on his Cheltenham plans.
Two winners on my return from holiday
We had a nice break in Norway, and it was good to return home and have a couple of winners this week.
Canelie was the first of those at Taunton on Tuesday. She had a few issues when with Gordon [Elliott] in Ireland but it’s been relatively plain sailing since she joined us.
We were very happy with her at home and she won well on debut for us.
She made hard work of it in the end, but got the job done and can be more competitive again in mares’ races.
Having won four bumpers in France initially, there’s no doubting there’s plenty of ability there and we’re looking forward to seeing how she can build on that and progress.
It was a good start on the hunter chase circuit for Opening Batsman at the same meeting.
Three miles has always stretched him and it was testing ground so he didn’t quite get home on the day, but he was a good fourth.
We’re not too fussed about qualifying for the Foxhunters at Cheltenham, but there are some nice races at Hereford and Wincanton towards the end of February to aim at.
Hopefully he can continue to give his owners plenty of fun days out.
Acting Lass was the other winner this week. He had been ready to run for a couple of weeks but we were just biding our time as we didn’t want to run him in deep, bottomless ground.
Thursday’s race at Leicester was the ideal opportunity to get him to take a step forward from his debut at Market Rasen and he did just that.
He made all in the end, which wouldn’t necessarily suit him, but he jumped really well and he’s a novice chaser going the right way.
While we’re not thinking about Cheltenham for him this time around, we’ll look to run him again towards the end of February and then have a look at Aintree or Punchestown.
He's worn a tongue tie in his last four races ever since he had a breathing op. It does exactly as it sounds, tying the tongue to the bottom jaw which helps stabilise the pallet.
Every horse of ours that has a wind op will almost certainly run in a tongue tie.
We’re about to start declaring whether they’ve had a wind op, but you only have to look closely with my horses to find out who has and who hasn’t.
It’s a bit like dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s, so to speak.
Sole runner this weekend in Saturday’s Lanzarote
We’ll find out on Saturday whether Bags Groove is good enough to defy another rise in the weights in the Lanzarote Hurdle at Kempton (2.40pm).
He’s earned his rating with two good wins, including over course and distance last time out, and he’s really well in himself at home.
As long as the ground doesn’t get any slower, we think he can be very competitive again.
Hopefully all goes well and then we can focus on stepping him up in trip for the Pertemps at Cheltenham.
Diese Des Bieffe looked like he was crying out for further when running behind our If The Cap Fits on Boxing Day and he looks to have a good chance.
Kylemore will go for next week’s Clarence House at Ascot
Kylemore Lough was entered in the Listed Chase at Kempton this Saturday, but we’ve opted to wait for next weekend’s Clarence House Chase at Ascot instead.
He was due to run in the rearranged Peterborough Chase before Christmas but wasn’t 100 per cent.
He seems A1 now and, although this is a step up in grade and we’re dropping him in trip, we just felt he’s worth a try in a race of this nature. He’s only run once over two miles - a novice chase at Sandown in 2016 - and he won that.
If Un De Sceaux turns up he’ll be very hard to beat, but this race will certainly give us a good idea of where we are for the rest of the season.
If The Cap Fits eyeing up Cheltenham
If The Cap Fits is very well and it’s more than likely that he’ll go straight for the Festival now, which in all probability will be the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle.
He’s quite a light-framed horse who doesn’t take masses of work and doesn’t want to run on deep winter ground.
The only other option would be to go to Kempton for the Dovecote, but that’s only two-and-a-half weeks before Cheltenham, so it’s more than likely he’ll head straight there.