New beginnings for Fingal and Fry

Fingal Bay - chasing debut on Saturday

The serious business of the National Hunt season is about to get under way, and this week sees the start of two new careers. It might be more accurate to say two changes of direction, for both the protagonists are already experienced, if not quite in what they are about to undertake.

Fingal Bay, one of last season’s leading novice hurdlers is set to make the transition to chasing on Saturday, when he has been entered for the Blue Square Bet Robert Mottram Memorial Novices’ Chase at Chepstow’s first jumps meeting. He won four of his five races last season, including the Persian Was Novices’ Hurdle at Chepstow on his first outing of the season last October.

Trainer Philip Hobbs sounded satisfied with Fingal Bay’s preparations, saying, “It’s very likely that he’ll start off at Chepstow. It looks a good starting point and his schooling has gone well. I doubt we’ll be running him in anything shorter than two and a half miles after this, but we’ll see how he goes. He probably does not want ground any quicker than good, but anything softer will be fine. Everything has gone to plan since he returned.”

Meanwhile, things are looking good for 25 year old Harry Fry, former assistant to Paul Nicholls. He’s been granted his training licence, and with a full yard of 23 boxes, and an option of a further 20 in an overflow yard, Fry looks to have a busy time ahead of him. He has already enlisted Richard Barber as his mentor, and girlfriend Ciara O’Connor as assistant.

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Rock On Ruby with Harry Fry

Fry has been in charge of operations at Seaborough in Dorset for a while, but, as he told the Racing Post, he is confident he is making the right choice to strike out on his own. He said, “It was not a decision that I rushed into and I am fully aware that from being assistant to the champion trainer to setting up on my own is quite a leap. By I am very lucky in that I’m taking the reins at a yard that is already well established.”

Now that he has a trainer’s licence in his own right, it will be his name that appears in the newspapers and racecards alongside those of the horse, owner and jockey. That could happen tomorrow, when he expects to run Subtle Sovereign in the novice hurdle at Exeter. If the ground there is too soft, he’ll make his debut at either Newton Abbott on Friday or Chepstow on Saturday.

Fry has already marked out a programme for Champion Hurdle winner Rock On Ruby. He said, “The horse seems very well and, as things stand, the Newcastle race (the Fighting Fifth Hurdle in December) is Plan A and then, if all is well, we will consider going to Kempton later in December for the Christmas Hurdle.”

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