Harry Fry: Why I'm pulling up stumps with Harry and American
The leading trainer explains his decision to end two of his star horses' seasons early, and discusses the debate surrounding the National Hunt calendar.
It was a frustrating day at Cheltenham on Wednesday. The fields were huge because of the ground – they were like Festival races really.
Art Of Payroll looked like he’d won the Silver Trophy, but Traffic Fluide came from the clouds to nail him on the run-in.
To be honest, I couldn’t believe our horse was such a big price. That was his season starting, really, and he’ll carry on until the autumn as he needs good ground.
We might look at something like the Summer Plate at Market Rasen for him.
Whataknight had run a blinder in the Pertemps at the Festival when the ground was too soft for him.
He ran well again on Wednesday, but just got going a bit too late. He wasn’t quite brave enough to go through the gaps when he needed to.
He’ll go to Haydock next for a 2m 6f handicap hurdle that he won a couple of years ago on Swinton Hurdle day.
It’s frustrating that they’ll both go up without winning, but there’s nothing we can do about that. Hopefully the handicapper won’t be too tough on them.
Golden Birthday has done really well for us on the Flat, and we hope he can put in a good display at Newbury on Friday in the stayers’ handicap (16.05).
He was unlucky last time at Lingfield, where he got boxed in at a crucial time. He probably would have won with a clear run, so it was a good performance as 1m 4f on the All-Weather isn’t ideal for him.
The advantage of not winning is that he gets to run off the same mark back on turf. The track, trip and ground should all be perfect for him and his last run will have put him spot on for this.
He’s going the right way and we’re still looking at the Chester Cup for him in three weeks’ time.
We’ve been keen to step Lamanver Odyssey up in trip so she goes for the 3m ½f mares’ handicap hurdle at Ayr (16.45), which looks the ideal opportunity on slightly better ground.
She’s going to have to improve again having gone up 5lbs for winning at Haydock before losing the race in the stewards’ room.
She seems in good order at home and let’s hope she can end the season on a high. She’ll probably go over fences next season.
It’s our last chance to run Wotzizname in a novice chase, so we’re going to Fontwell (2.15pm).
If his jumping holds up and he puts in a clear round, hopefully he’s the one they’ve all got to beat. We’ll be looking at handicaps for him next season.
Harry and American won’t be going to Punchestown
We’ve taken Unowhatimeanharry and American out of Punchestown.
Harry wasn’t quite firing on all cylinders, so we’ve decided to draw a line through this season. He’ll have a break and we're looking forward to having another go next term.
The weather has gone against American, so we’ll also pull up stumps with him too. The plan is still to send a couple of runners over there.
Amazing achievement by Tiger Roll
The Grand National showed that size isn’t everything.
Tiger Roll is an extraordinary horse to do what he’s done – winning at three Cheltenham Festivals and then a Grand National.
He’s still only eight and it will be a very long time until a horse replicates what he’s done.
It was a thrilling race as always, and it was good to see all the horses and jockeys come back safe and sound.
National Hunt calendar
There’s been a lot spoken about the National Hunt calendar this week and I definitely think it needs looking at.
There should be a proper break from everyone’s point of view – jockeys, trainers and stable staff.
It doesn’t necessarily need to be at the end of the season, as there are lots of horses to run on decent ground in May.
There should be a window where everyone focuses on the Flat and we pause jump racing.
June would be the logical time for that – why can’t we stop National Hunt racing from the Derby to the end of Royal Ascot?
Three weeks over that period would give everyone a chance in jump racing to recharge their batteries.