Harry Fry will always be thankful to Unowhatimeanharry for helping to put him on the map and the pair celebrated another notable success together in the Ladbrokes Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury.
Age may no longer be on the side of the JP McManus-owned 10-year-old – but he showed he has plenty of fire left in his belly in grinding out another success in the Grade Two contest he won in 2016, with cheekpieces fitted for the first time.
Despite being under heavy pressure entering the home straight, the 11-4 favourite worked his way into contention before running out a two-and-a-half-length winner over the Evan Williams-trained Clyne.
Ladbrokes quote Fry’s charge at 25-1 for the Stayers’ Hurdle at Cheltenham, with Paddy Power going 14-1.
Fry said of the Barry Geraghty-ridden winner: “He has just been an incredible horse for us. He hadn’t won for over a year and it looked like at the end of last year things were on the wane.
“He went back to Martinstown (Stud, in Ireland) and had a good break. We did a few little things and tweaked his wind again and we had been really happy this autumn.
“The last day over two and a half miles, he hasn’t got the speed for that any more, but he was doing his best work at the end and we took plenty of encouragement from that.
“We felt now was the time to put the cheekpieces on to encourage him to travel through the races.
“I’m just delighted to get him back in the winner’s enclosure. I’m not saying he will win a Stayers’ Hurdle, but every win with him is a bonus.
“It was good to see him back winning again. I think the cheekpieces and the slower ground have helped.
“He is a 10-year-old and we will enjoy this, as he has given us another big day.”
He added: “We’ve had him three seasons now, he started off a 123-rated maiden and is now a 12-times winner and a three-time Grade One winner. You can’t script it.”
A trip to Cheltenham on New Year’s Day to contest the Relkeel Hurdle looks to be next on the agenda for the runner-up.
Williams said: “I’m delighted. He won’t go right-handed as he lugged left there. He will go to Cheltenham on New Year’s Day.
“This horse wants wet ground. He got outpaced early on, but stayed on. I suppose these races are the way to go now.”