Harry Fry could not have started the year in more stunning fashion. Currently on five winners and a second from his six runners in 2015, the fine run continued with a double at Wincanton on Saturday.
Blue Buttons gave a battling performance to win a handicap hurdle, while Fletchers Flyer impressed when winning the 2m6f novices’ hurdle.
The latter looks a horse of great potential. A chaser in the making, he has now won three of his five starts under rules. He is a strong travelling sort and a relentless galloper. His trainer commented after the race: “He's hopefully going to go to Haydock for a three-mile Grade Two novice hurdle in the second week of February.” He was ridden for the first time by Nick Scholfield who said: “He handled the ground and they went a good gallop in the conditions. Harry and Noel (Fehily) were pretty keen for me to make it a true test. Most of the other lads came in a said 'what a gallop' but it felt pretty easy on him."
It’s hard to believe that it was only two years ago that Harry became the youngest jumps trainer when taking out his licence at the tender age of 25. Previously part of the team at Ditcheat, he learned his trade from one of the very best in champion trainer Paul Nicholls. In 2010 he had been given the responsibility of running a satellite yard at Seaborough with his mentor Richard Barber. Success came his way when Rock On Ruby won the 2012 Champion Hurdle under his guidance.
Taking out a full training licence, he soon had his first winner when the classy mare Highland Retreat won a novices’ hurdle at Exeter. Fry is based at Manor Farm, Seaborough in Dorset, and has around 40 horses in training. Already on 27 winners for the season, he is rapidly closing in on last season’s total of 34.
His stable star remains the wonderful Rock On Ruby. After an unsuccessful spell over fences he is now back over the smaller obstacles, and has looked as good as ever this winter, with back to back wins at Cheltenham in the Relkeel Hurdle and then at the New Year’s Day meeting last Thursday. Both victories were over 2m4f and the old warrior saw out the trip in fine style. A run in the World Hurdle at The Festival now looks to be on the cards, and connections will go there with high hopes.
If Ruby remains the star, then along with Fletchers Flyer the talented trainer has a wealth of younger talent set to battle for the major prizes this season. Jollyallan is yet to taste defeat so far this winter. Owned by JP McManus, he was last seen beating a Willie Mullins inmate at Kempton during the Christmas holiday. He’s another that looks sure to go to Cheltenham in March and is currently 25’s for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle.
Thomas Brown was another winner for the yard at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day. He won the Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle and could well return in March in either the Neptune or the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle.
The stable have another classy mare in Bitofapuzzle, who was recently beaten for the first time. Pipped at the post at Haydock by The Pirate’s Queen from Alan King’s yard, she is nevertheless a horse with great potential. A lover of the mud and a strong stayer, she looks sure to have a successful remainder of the season.
Finally Jolly’s Cracked it may have been beaten by the very impressive L’Ami Serge on Saturday, but he remains a horse to follow. It’s likely that he will now be stepped up in trip, but anything he does over hurdles remains a bonus, as this fella looks sure to be something special over the larger obstacles.
Still in its infancy, Harry Fry’s yard is already progressing at a gallop. Expect major prizes to come his way, sooner rather than later.