Fry not shy of a Lossiemouth rematch with Love Envoi

Harry Fry will not shirk a Cheltenham Festival rematch with Lossiemouth despite seeing his own star mare Love Envoi come off clear second best in their clash in Saturday’s Unibet Hurdle.

The latter is already a Festival winner having claimed the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle in 2022 and last season gave the retiring Honeysuckle a real run for her money in the Mares’ Hurdle itself.

Fry admitted to being disappointed with Love Envoi’s performance when filling the runner-up spot in the rescheduled Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Sandown last month, but was much more encouraged by her display on Cheltenham Trials day, albeit she was no match for the impressive Lossiemouth.

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“Obviously the winner was in a different league, but we were pleased with the run,” he said.

“She travelled and jumped with her usual fluency and it was good to see that she was much sharper for her reappearance.

“The Mares’ Hurdle has always been the plan, we were runner-up in the race last year and we’ve got six weeks to look forward to going back there.

“Obviously Lossiemouth is going to be very hard to beat on the form she showed on Saturday, but it’s a horse race at the end of the day and you’ve got to be in it to win it.”

Trainer Harry Fry was pleased with Love Envoi's performance at Cheltenham on Saturday
Trainer Harry Fry was pleased with Love Envoi’s performance at Cheltenham on Saturday (John Walton/PA)

Love Envoi is a general 14-1 shot for the Mares’ Hurdle, with the Willie Mullins-trained Lossiemouth odds-on to record her second Festival win following last year’s Triumph Hurdle success.

Such was the impression she made on her comeback, plenty have suggested Lossiemouth should be heading for the Champion Hurdle, a notion Fry is unsurprisingly fully behind.

He quipped: “I don’t know what they’re thinking, I think it’s a no-brainer to go for the Champion Hurdle. If anything is going to give Constitution Hill a race it must be her, surely!

“I can understand where they’re coming from (going for the Mares’ Hurdle), but they’ve all got to get there and in six weeks anything can happen.

“We know the trip on Saturday is short of our best and we prefer slower ground as well. Hopefully we get conditions in our favour and the more testing it is the better, basically.”

Meanwhile, Fry is in no rush to make a final decision on Gidleigh Park’s Festival target following his latest success at Prestbury Park.

The giant six-year-old had been most impressive in winning a Chepstow bumper and twice over hurdles at Exeter and Newbury prior to stepping up to Grade Two level on the Trials day card.

Gidleigh Park (right) in winning action at Cheltenham
Gidleigh Park (right) in winning action at Cheltenham (David Davies for The Jockey Club)

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Gidleigh Park was not as visually striking as before, but showed a willing attitude to see off the challenge of Lucky Place by half a length and stretch his unbeaten record to four.

The Walk In The Park gelding is entered in the Baring Bingham Novices’ Hurdle and the longer Albert Bartlett at the Festival and Fry will wait until much nearer the time before making a final call.

He said: “After all the talk beforehand it was just a relief to see him go and get the job done.

“It was a small field and the way the race was run wasn’t necessarily to suit. We ended up in front sooner than we wanted to and Johnny (Burke) rode a sensible race without giving him a hard race as it was a trial after all.

“It turned into a bit of a sprint from turning in, which was never really going to play to our strengths, but the fact that he was still able to knuckle down and get his head in front after the last will stand him in good stead. Before that he’d been winning easily, so he needed a bit of a tussle and learning from that point of view, which will hopefully benefit him moving forward as well.

“We’ll make that decision when we have to basically. He’s a potential three-mile chaser in the making and what he is doing over hurdles is an added bonus, but he’s a lovely, young horse and we’re delighted to keep his unbeaten tag. Onwards and upwards.”

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