Harry Fry in confident mood over Rock On Ruby's Champion Hurdle chances at Cheltenham Festival
Less than a week to the Champion Hurdle and Harry Fry is becoming more bullish by the day about Rock On Ruby retaining the title.
Fry knows what it takes to train a Champion Hurdle winner. Although Paul Nicholls was the name on the ticket last year it was Fry who prepared Rock On Ruby at the handler’s satellite yard in Seaborough.
Now with a licence, Fry has the horse in his own right at the same base near Crewkerne and it would cap a marvellous first season for the 26-year-old if Rock On Ruby keeps his crown on Tuesday.
Fry has only had one goal for the Oscar gelding this season – the entire campaign has been geared to the Festival. He is convinced his stable star is coming to the boil at the precise moment and declares that the champion is the one they have all got to beat.
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“If the ground comes right – and it’s drying all the time – he will take a lot of beating. His last run at Doncaster was perfect time-wise and took him to the next level.
“He is a bigger and stronger than last season, We are delighted with him, he is coming to himself now and we go there full of confidence.
“Last year my name wasn’t on the stable door, so to speak, but now it is I’m enjoying the experience even more because we’re flying the flag for our young team.”
Twelve months ago a strong gallop set by Overturn was of great benefit but with Donald McCain’s horse now on the Arkle Trophy trail there is a concern about the pace in the race. Fry is sure, however, that regular rider Noel Fehily will have organised his tactics to guarantee a fast-run affair – don’t expect him to be hanging around coming down the hill.
Form from the International at Cheltenham in December suggests Rock On Ruby has something to find with Zarkandar who finished eight lengths in front that day receiving 4lb on heavy going.
But Fry counters: “That ground was not to our liking and it was our first run of the season. He travelled down the hill like the best horse in the race but lack of match practice told.”
While he is praying for better ground for Rock On Ruby Fry will only saddle Oscar Rock for the Champion Bumper if the heavens open. “If conditions are testing we might let him take his chance but I think that’s it for this season.”