Harry Fry: Melrose Boy will handle soft conditions at Sandown
The leading National Hunt trainer reflects on his three winners at Kempton last week, and previews his runners at Sandown and Hereford this weekend.
It was great to have a three winners at Kempton last week. Surely there’s a place in the programme to accommodate a jumpers-bumpers card as a permanent fixture moving forward.
Barney Clifford has been pushing to hold two permanent cards in the first week of February and the first week of March, and I think it would be a great addition to the fixture list.
It allows better-ground horses to run at this time of year when the ground gets bad and there are very few options to run them.
I’m not suggesting there should be one every other week, but I think they definitely have their place in the jumps calendar.
People are moaning about galloping horses behind closed doors and not running them. Well, potentially, this would give horses a good opportunity to stretch their legs in public on a racecourse and act as a stepping stone to the likes of Cheltenham.
Sir Ivan took his opportunity to bounce back. He’s still got all the ability and had just been banging his head against a brick wall in terms of where he is with his handicap mark.
A level-weights race and something a bit different helped him recapture his form and hopefully we’re now back on an upward curve.
Onefortheroadtom is a horse we’ve been waiting on better ground for and he did it quite nicely in the end. There are no confirmed plans for him just yet while the ground is still pretty testing, but hopefully we can get him out again at the end of the month or at the beginning of April.
General Ginger won pretty easily really which was nice to see. We’d said before that he’d been going round kicking most of his hurdles out of the ground so it just shows what a difference it makes when you take the obstacles out of the equation.
We’re now going down the Flat route with him, he’ll run at Chelmsford in the 2m conditions race (7.45pm) on Saturday.
On paper, it looks like we’ve lost the plot pitching him into that race, but, being an eight-year-old, he needs to start somewhere.
He’ll go for a couple of novice events at Wolverhampton in April after this and then have a handicap mark to target some Flat staying handicaps though the spring and summer.
Melrose Boy at Sandown
We know that Melrose Boy will handle the soft conditions in the 2m4f Grade 3 Novices’ Hurdle (1.50pm). He ran a good race over further at Sandown last month and I don’t see the drop in trip being a problem.
He’s back in novice company and that run in a big-field handicap last time would have been a good education for him.
He’s in great order at home and can hopefully go very close indeed.
Secret Door at Hereford
Secret Door goes for the mares’ handicap chase (2.15pm) at Hereford.
While she hasn’t been in quite the same form that we saw at the backend of last season, the cheekpieces are back on and she’s down in grade too.
Keiron Edgar takes off a valuable 3lbs and hopefully she’ll go well too.
Sunday at Market Rasen
Vivant steps up in trip for the 2m7f mares’ handicap hurdle (4.40pm).
She’s got to take a big step forward on what she did last time but we think this trip will suit her.
Status Quo (5.15pm) is another who hasn’t covered himself in glory yet this season, but he is the sort of horse that will have his day soon.
Whether that’s Sunday or not, we’ll have to wait and see.