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I had to smile when according to The Racing Post this morning Harry Fry was listed in ‘Hot Training Prospects’ underneath a feature on Dan Skelton. Jeez Louise, I thought he was already there! His name may not be next to Rock On Ruby in the record books in the season of 2011/2012 but it was he who looked after his training during his Champion Hurdle winning campaign. Okay, he is not in the very biggest league yet with the likes of Mullins, Nicholls, Henderson, O’Neill, Pipe and Hobbs but he is right at the top of the next list in my view.
Where Fry is going to be particularly strong this season is with his novice chasers as Activial, Jollyallan, Bitofapuzzle, Fletchers Flyer, Jolly’s Cracked It and Thomas Brown in addition to Henryville who got off the mark over fences last week are set to go novice chasing this campaign. Fry wouldn’t have as many big-money owners that Skelton has but he is a trainer to very much keep on side in novice chases this season. As he is in any season actually as his strike rate in this partiular sphere is superb.
In fact, the novice chasing division and especially in the south of England is going to be frighteningly-competitive this season as in addition to that classy Fry-trained septet, seemingly all of Nicky Henderson’s best young horses with the exception of Peace And Co are set to go over fences in the next couple of months all being well plus Skelton commented in today's feature that he is big in the novice division this winter and Paul Nicholls also has as many as around 50 novice chasers for the upcoming season! Whether that will include Aux Ptits Soins we will have to see as I hear he is behind the others at Ditcheat following a little problem and it could be that he starts off over hurdles. Win something like the Coral Hurdle first time out and the temptation to remain over timber may prove too much. Hopefully we might learn more tomorrow as the Coral Cup winner is featured in Friday's Racing Post.
In addition to all this talent being sent over fences this season, there are also less novice chases due to be run which should mean that we will be in a for a feast in this sphere. Henderson, who has had a new sand-based gallop installed for this season therefore following Nicholls and Fry's lead so expect him to start much faster this campaign, isn’t best pleased at the fewer opportunities for novice chasers as you might expect and especially as he has so many at his disposal for this campaign. But as far as I am concerned the less opportunities for him to introduce the likes of Beat That, L’Ami Serge, Hargam, Top Notch and others at 2/5 in three-runner races the better.
Early next week I will give a Ten To Follow for the season. It did rather well after I wrote something similar at the same stage last year as they won 18 races from 39 starts and showed a level stakes profit of +51 points. Even you took out Many Clouds winning the Grand National at 25/1 that still left a very healthy profit.
Just going back to Rock On Ruby, I hope that Cheltenham Racecourse have amended their Hall of Fame for this season where they referred to Hurricane Fly as the Champion Hurdle winner of 2012. I couldn't resist pointing it out to them on the eve of last year's Festival in addition to numerous misspellings of Rimell and Taaffe.