Trainer Harry Fry has had quite the year. Not only has he had to endure the fallout from a crippling global pandemic like the rest of us, he has also moved yards in search of a fresh start. He and his team now find themselves in a state of the art training facility in Higher Crockermoor in Corscombe in Dorset. The goal? To quickly start building on a dip in fortunes last season and hit the ground running.
This Saturday, Phoenix Way bids to win the Grade 1 Henry VIII Novices’ Chase at Sandown Park. We checked-in with Harry for an exclusive chat about his Saturday runners and also for a catch up on Unowhatimeanharry and If The Cap Fits.
Race could be run to suit Phoenix Way
Phoenix Way has enjoyed a curious couple of wins on his last two outings, first winning over 3m1f at Huntingdon back in January, before dropping back to two miles to win his novice chase impressively at Warwick last month. Prior to his January run, he also won over 2m4f at Plumpton, so it was interesting to learn what Harry Fry thinks of this fine chasing type in terms of his ideal distance.
“We know he stays well but he’s definitely not short of speed, as he showed at Warwick on his debut. We just thought a stiff two miles around Sandown would suit. A strongly run two miles will be to his benefit given his running style, as will all of the rain they’ve had.
“It is a big step up in grade on Saturday and undoubtedly he will be stepping up in trip in due course, but we felt his performance at Warwick has earned him a shot at the Grade 1 Henry VIII on Saturday. It’s an exciting race to be involved in and you’d like to think he’ll be a bit sharper for his first run of the season.”
Drop in trip to suit Jolly’s
“Jolly’s Cracked It will run in the Listed handicap hurdle at Sandown (3.35pm) and faces a lot of unexposed runners in the field. He’s not getting any younger as we know but we’ve had this race in mind for him, a stiff two miles, since he ran at Aintree over 2m4f in October.”
“He looked to be the winner and almost travelled too well there, looking like he’d win between the last two hurdles but his stamina just gave out in the end. Two miles on slow ground should suit, but he’s on a mark we think he can be competitive off and Kevin Brogan takes off 7lb too so he’s definitely no back number.”
Legend Unowhatimeanharry can keep going as a 13yo
“Unowhatimeanharry has come out of his Aintree win in good form, he’s in really good order. We’re hoping to run him in the three mile handicap hurdle at Cheltenham next Friday. It was great to see him roll back the years at Aintree, he kind of just joined into the race coming to the last and it was great to watch. He’s gone up 3lb, Kevin Brogan was taking off 7lb that day, he’s good value for his claim and he’ll hopefully renew the partnership next week at Cheltenham.”
“His days of dining at the top table of Stayers’ Hurdle type races are behind him, but so long as he’s enjoying it he’s qualified for the Pertemps Final again and we’re lucky to have him.”
If The Cap Fits an exciting staying chaser to have
“I probably, in hindsight, just ran him (If The Cap Fits) a little too soon at Sandown last time. We’re planning to drop him back in trip a bit and the plan was to go for the Grade 2 Novice Chase at Ascot this month, but they’ve actually knocked two furlongs off the distance. So we’ll keep him for the Dipper Novices’ Chase at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day now.”
“The experience at Sandown over three miles certainly won’t have been lost on him and he jumped really well there, so hopefully he can resume the winning groove when we go to the Dipper after Christmas.
“I don’t know if he’s a Cheltenham horse and that’s another good reason to go there in January. We’re testing the water with him and there’s obviously some nice races to target so this will help us decide on the right ones.”