Horse Talk with Simon Jackson:
Top horse racing tips and the latest news.
HARRY Fry is relishing the clash between his Stayers’ Hurdle hope If The Cap Fits and reigning champion Paisley Park in the Group 2 galliardhomes.com Cleeve Hurdle at Cheltenham on Saturday.
If The Cap Fits boosted his claims as a leading contender for the Staying Hurdlers’ crown when landing the Grade 1 Ryaniar Stayers’ Hurdle over an extended three miles on Grand National Day at Aintree last year.
The victory was even more impressive as Fry’s charge blundered badly at the last fence when challenging the leaders. The then seven-year-old rallied well in the closing stages to claim the lead at the finish.
If The Cap Fits, who races in the familiar blue and yellow colours of Paul and Clare Rooney, returned this season with a half length victory in the Grade 2 Coral Hurdle over two and a half miles at Ascot in late November.
That victory under a penalty has left If The Cap Fits with a career-high rating of 166 – 3lb below 2019 Stayers’ Hurdle winner Paisley Park – and Fry is eager to see how his charge fares in his first visit to Cheltenham on Saturday.
“The Cleeve Hurdle is the plan for If The Cap Fits, as long as the ground is not too testing,” said Fry ahead of the £60,000 contest where the going at Cheltenham is currently described as soft.
“It is his first run at the track, but it will give him plenty of experience of Cheltenham before the Stayers’ Hurdle in March.
“It will be great to finally take on Paisley Park. Our horse is improving all the time and it promises to be a fascinating race.”
Meanwhile, Fry is eyeing the Group 2 Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle (over an extended two and a half miles) with last start winner King Roland, who secured his third win in four starts when winning a maiden hurdle at Exeter by 19 lengths on New Year’s Day.
“King Roland is a possible for Cheltenham on Saturday,” Fry added.
“He is a horse with an exciting future, and I was delighted with his performance at Exeter.
“We will make a decision towards the end of the week before deciding whether he runs, but he is a horse I like a lot.
“A step up in trip will be important for him going forward.”
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