Harry Fry: Rooneys’ U-turn opens up Cross Country option
The Betway ambassador previews all of his weekend runners at Kempton, Chepstow and Fontwell, and gives the latest on The Last Samuri heading to Cheltenham.
It’s been a very mixed week, but there’s plenty to look forward to this weekend with a good handful of runners in Graded company on both Saturday and Sunday.
Looking back on last weekend first and it all happened too quickly for Jolly’s Cracked It on the drying ground at Wincanton in the Grade 2 Betway Kingwell Hurdle.
We’ll wait until conditions are back in his favour and dip back into a nice handicap.
As for Air Horse One, who finished midfield in the 2m3½f handicap hurdle at Ascot, it’s just very frustrating the handicapper has only dropped him a pound as a result.
He’s gone two years without winning, was beaten by 31 lengths and still remains 7lbs higher than his last winning mark.
We’ve had numerous conversations with the handicapper because the horse is clearly unable to win off his current mark, but it just feels as though we’re banging our heads against a brick wall.
He hasn’t taken to fences so we can’t go down that route and it’s just hugely frustrating.
Deadringerforlove ran okay in the mares’ bumper but it wasn’t soft enough for her and she could only finish eighth out of 14.
She wants to go up in trip at some point too and will be going over hurdles the next day.
Mixed emotions on Tuesday
Tuesday at Taunton didn’t get much better with Chetsford Water running an ordinary race and then, very sadly, Misterton taking a fatal fall at the second last.
It’s the first time that we’ve lost one on the racecourse like that and it’s very sad for all involved.
All the guys in the yard who work with him are very upset and the only saving grace was that Noel Fehily was able to walk away.
Misterton was a real favourite in the yard. He was a gent, who even my four-year-old daughter could ride.
We had very high hopes for him over fences too and it’s devastating.
Taunton Racecourse’s reaction was greatly appreciated.
They came and had a long chat with us afterwards to analyse the incident and work out whether anything could be changed to ensure the safety of the horses.
The problem is that the second last on any racecourse can be a dangerous one as that’s usually the moment when a horse is at its fastest.
It’s a funny old game as you just have to move on and we went and won the last with Goodnitesweetheart.
I was delighted for her connections who have had to be so patient with this horse.
She had almost two years off the track before returning at Fontwell last month and it’s now great to have her winning again.
We may even look to strike while the iron’s hot and run her under a penalty in a handicap hurdle at Plumpton on Monday.
Overall, it was a really mixed day of emotions.
Rooneys reroute to Cheltenham
The Rooneys’ decision to run horses at Cheltenham is good news for all of us.
They clearly wanted some answers about what was being done to ensure the welfare of horses and it’s pleasing to hear those talks have been positive.
It now means The Last Samuri will be entered for the Cross Country Chase, which he was third in last year.
Before that he’ll head to Newbury next weekend for the veterans’ chase and there’s the option of Cheltenham before potentially heading to Aintree for another tilt at the Grand National.
If The Cap Fits won’t be rerouted to Cheltenham at this stage.
The entries for the Champion Hurdle closed a little while ago and there’s no thoughts about supplementing him as things stand.
Runners at Kempton and Chepstow
It’s crazy how much the ground is drying out at the moment, I can’t think of the last time we had good in the going description at Chepstow in February.
I’ve got three all set to line up there that would like it a bit softer, but it’s perfectly safe ground so they’ll all take their chance.
Overtown Express runs in the two mile handicap chase (16:15) having finished second in it last year.
He’s a little lower in the weights and Kieron Edgar takes off a valuable 3lbs, but he would want it a little softer to be seen at his very best.
We’ve then got two in the bumper (17:20).
Imperial Espirit ran a very nice race to finish second over course and distance over Christmas.
Hopefully he can build on that and go very close, while Ruby Bear makes his debut. It’s all about racecourse experience for him.
He looks like a real stayer in the making and we’re just looking forward to getting his career underway.
Over at Kempton, Bags Groove (13:50) is one who will appreciate the drying ground. On Boxing Day we got it a bit wrong.
The race came too soon after his race at Huntingdon, so we’ve given him a nice break and we’re hoping he can bounce right back to form before stepping it up a gear for a bigger target in the spring.
This will act as a stepping stone to Aintree, where he could go up in trip and contest the Grade 1 Betway Mildmay Novices’ Chase over three miles.
As for Bags Groove’s main rival in the Pendil, I think you’ve got to take anything Paul Nicholls is running at the moment very seriously.
He’s in red-hot form and fields Secret Investor, who although we beat in the Rising Stars Novices Chase at Wincanton, now gets 5lbs off us and probably rates as the biggest danger.
Sunday at Fontwell
The drying ground is also a positive for If The Cap Fits in the National Spirit Hurdle (14:50).
He’s stepping back up in trip having finished a solid third the last day in the Christmas Hurdle over two miles at Kempton on Boxing Day.
He’s really well in himself and we would have run him last weekend if it wasn’t for the new flu vaccination rules.
That this run comes just a week after his flu vaccination is maybe the only slight concern.
In an ideal world you wouldn’t run them so soon after, but seeing him out there schooling this week you would never have known he had a jab.
Old Guard won it last year and has to be respected coming from the Nicholls yard.
Then there’s Vison Des Flos of Colin Tizzard’s who’s been knocking on the door in good races, and you can’t discount Lil Rockerfeller who’s also won the race before.
If The Cap Fits will be joined on the lorry by Jerimiah James who runs in the bumper (16:55).
My mother part owns him so I always feel the pressure when he’s running.
With this being his third start, we hope he’s heading in the right direction and should have a good each-way chance.
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