Harry Fry, 31, was pupil assistant to Paul Nicholls for four years and assistant trainer to Richard Barber, at Nicholls’ satellite stable in Seaborough, near Bridport, Dorset, before taking out a training licence in October 2012. Fry was famously credited with preparing Rock On Ruby, the winner of the Champion Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival the previous March, although Nicholls’ name appeared on the roll of honour.
Fry had to wait a little while for a Grade 1 winner in his own right, when Bitofapuzzle won the Irish Stallion Farms European Breeders Fund Mares Novice Hurdle Championship Final at Fairyhouse in 2015. However, more recently, his stable standard bearer, Unowhatimeanharry, has won ten of his 13 starts for the yard, including the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival and the JLT Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot in 2016 and the Ladbrokes Champion Stayers Hurdle at Punchestown in 2017, to take his tally to four Grade 1 wins.
All in all, Fry has saddled 254 winners in his short career, including 41, so far, in 2017/18. He has steadily increased his total number of winners and total prize money, year-on-year, since 2012/13. In 2016/17, just his fifth season in charge, he finished thirteenth in the Trainers’ Championship, with 67 winners and over £1 million in prize money for the first time.
As far as the Cheltenham Festival in 2018 is concerned, Fry has recently stated that If The Cap Fits, a comfortable winner of all three starts over hurdles, misses his intended engagement in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle because of a gluteal muscle tear. Fry hopes that the 6-year-old Milan gelding will recover in time to defend his 100% record over the smaller obstacles at the Aintree Grand National Meeting.
In brighter news, Melrose Boy, also owned by Paul and Clare Rooney, remains on course for the Coral Cup or the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle and can be backed at 25/1 for either race. The 5-year-old has already won a 19-runner handicap hurdle over 2 miles 5 furlongs on the Old Course at Cheltenham and lost little caste in defeat when third, off his revised mark, in the valuable Betfred Heroes Handicap Hurdle, over 2 miles 7½ furlongs, at Sandown in February. His experience of large fields, not to mention his proven stamina, could make him an ideal candidate for the Coral Cup, in particular, if the ground doesn’t dry out too much.