Harry Fry has only ever had one runner in the Lanzarote Hurdle, with Bags Groove finishing a never dangerous 10th in 2018.
Three years on and the Higher Crockermoor handler is ready to unleash his second representative in the Kempton handicap, with confidence evident that Misty Whisky can run a big race.
“We were delighted to have snuck in as the last one at the bottom of the weights for the race on Saturday,” Fry told Tote.
“I think the nature of the race, where they should go a good gallop and she can hopefully be delivered late, would really suit her. We go there hoping she can be very competitive off her current rating.”
That mark has been nudged up to a figure of 120 after the grey stuck on well to win at Ludlow last month, taking her season’s record to two wins from two runs.
There were different kinds of positives from those victories for her trainer;
“She won well on her reappearance over two miles when she was always a horse that we thought would want further.
“And then at Ludlow, I think she ended in front sooner than Sean necessarily wanted to be, but that was the way the race unfolded. She’s never one that has done much out in front on her own, but she did it really nicely.“
Looking further afield one might think that the imposing mare could be one to jump a fence in time, but with the seven-year-old owned by her breeders The Distillery Stud, Fry is more focused on keeping her with him rather than plotting a future as a chaser.
“”I’m doing my best to try and keep her as a racehorse, while her owners are, as they should be, looking forward to a breeding career with her.
“Whereas I’m picking out races left right and centre for her, they are looking at stallion nominations left, right and centre!”
If the daughter of Stowaway were to land some black type success with victory in the Lanzarote Hurdle, it would certainly give her owners something to look forward to.
Step up in trip could see Captain sink bigger ships
If the card survives the weather, Fry is also set to send out Captain Drake in the Welsh National at Chepstow.
Having scored over hurdles on his return, he has been well beaten in two subsequent runs since, but his trainer isn’t giving up hope.
“We were delighted with his reappearance run when he won over hurdles at Uttoxeter. He didn’t run with much enthusiasm the next day at Cheltenham, so that was the reason we gave him another outing at Chepstow,” Fry told Tote.
“Hopefully that bit of course experience will stand him in good stead for the real thing on Saturday all being well.”
The marathon test that his eight-year-old will face in Wales could well be the difference if the gelding is to reverse the form with three of those that finished in front of him in the trial for the big.
“The trip holds no bars for him, having finished runner-up in the Midlands National last March and we know he relishes the ground off him.”
“We are very aware that he does have to step up on the bare form of the Welsh National form, but the key thing for him is the step up in trip, without doubt.”
Having scored over the smaller obstacles first time up, Fry had contemplated keeping Captain Drake over hurdles until Chepstow, but that plan was quickly changed.
“If you look at the way he ran first time out last season, he ran no sort of race like he did at Cheltenham and the second day he ran a much more encouraging race at Exeter before going on to win on New Year’s Day.”
“He’s the sort of horse that needs as much confidence and as much match practice as possible. He obviously needs to improve on his last run, but there were more encouraging signs compared to his Cheltenham.”
Ask Me Early could be next year’s representative
Earlier on the Chepstow card, the team unleashed Ask Me Early in the 2m7f handicap chase. Having had just two runs over hurdles he was swiftly sent over fences over the same course and distance where he ran out an impressive winner.
“From the minute he stepped foot in the yard he was a chaser in our eyes. As soon as he had those couple of runs and he was eligible for a handicap chase that was always going to be the route we were going to go.
“We were delighted with how he jumped and ultimately ran on well the last day over course and distance. There are a couple of better horses there today, but I think the handicapper has been fair putting him up 6lbs and I can see him going well off his revised rating.”
A return to this card in 11 months time could be on the cards if things go well in the meantime for the son of Ask, with National ambitions held by his trainer.
“I think he could be a Welsh National horse in a year’s time, National trips will definitely be up his sleeve in due course. He’s a proper out and out galloper and hopefully he can confirm that on Saturday.”
Betfair Hurdle still in contention for Metier
The Fry team could be set for a second huge weekend in a row after their unbeaten hurdler Metier took the Tolworth Hurdle in commanding fashion last week.
The Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham remains the number on plan but the former flat winner could have a Newbury assignment beforehand.
“He seems well in himself and has come out of Sandown well. The owner and I wanted to give ourselves the option so we’ve given him the entry in the Betfair Hurdle and we’ll look at the weights and see first and foremost how Metier is in himself before making the decision of whether to go to Newbury or head straight to Cheltenham.”
“He’s gone up 6lbs and the handicapper keeps telling me that My Tent Or Yours won the Betfair Hurdle off the same rating, 149 en route to the Supreme.“
Whether or not he takes in the Betfair Hurdle on the way, Metier will bid to become the third horse in six years to win the Tolworth before going on to Cheltenham Festival glory and looks a real horse to follow in the months and years to come.