Harry Fry is looking forward to running the veteran Unowhatimeanharry when the 11-year-old starts his seventh campaign in the bet365 Hurdle at Wetherby on Saturday.
Unowhatimeanharry has just kept on delivering season after season, with a host of big-race successes, including the Albert Bartlett, the Long Walk, two Newbury Long Distance Hurdles and two Champion Stayers Hurdles at Punchestown.
The second of those in May gave Fry tremendous satisfaction – and paved the way for the stable flag-bearer to carry on racing.
Dorset-based Fry said: “He gave us a brilliant day at Punchestown in May, we didn’t really know what to expect – we thought it could even be his last run.
“He’s almost 12 now, but it is great to have him back for more this season.
“We will place him carefully these days, but it is special to see him still performing at a high level.
“Hopefully he can be competitive at Wetherby and we are looking forward to running.”
Nigel Twiston-Davies has been waiting for the right time to step Ballyandy up to three miles and feels the eight-year-old has every chance of getting the trip as he relaxes in his races.
“He is going three miles for the first time but he settles well in his races so he should be fine,” said the Naunton handler.
“We’ve had it in the back of our mind for a while about stepping him up in trip to three miles.
“His comeback run at Chepstow was a really good run.
“We will see how we get on at Wetherby before committing to going down the route towards the Stayers’ Hurdle (at Cheltenham).”
Tom George is sticking to the hurdle route with The Worlds End for his seasonal reappearance before deciding whether to return to fences and a possible tilt at the Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury.
“We are happy with him. He started last season well, then it all went a bit wrong for him,” said George.
“His work has been good and I couldn’t be more happier with him. He is starting over hurdles, but he jumped fences very well on his first two starts last season and he has got a Ladbrokes Trophy entry. We just want to get him going and this seems a good starting point.
“We’ve done a lot of work on him over the summer and I think you will see where he should be on Saturday.”
Two Taffs reverts to the smaller obstacles on his return from a 735-day lay-off.
Trainer Dan Skelton felt that is the right move to get the nine-year-old back on track.
“I think he will improve for the run as he has been off for a good while,” said the Alcester handler.
“He had a little hind foot injury which was a niggly injury really. We are happy with him and we have to get him started and I thought we would go over hurdles first rather than fences.
“I think a small field will be better for him first, rather than running him in a big one. He will go back over fences after this. I took him out at Cheltenham last week due to the ground. I’ve done loads of steady work with him, but he will improve.”
Le Breuil, Lord Napier and Teescomponents Lad complete the list of seven runners.
Phil Kirby reports Lady Buttons to be in good condition as his stable star bids to repeat last year’s success in the bet365 Mares’ Hurdle.
“She is a star and without her we wouldn’t be where we are today,” said the North Yorkshire-based handler.
“We are looking forward to returning to Wetherby for the race she won last year.
“She did not mind mixing hurdles and fences last season and she could do the same this time around.
“She is in lovely shape and seems as happy as ever.”
Skelton admits Vision Du Puy has plenty to find in this grade on the back of the French import’s win at Perth in April on her UK debut.
“The handicapper has given her a mark of 134 which looks to be based on her French form and not her English form,” he said.
“We’ve got to get started with her and the track will be fair for her. Lady Buttons is a very good mare and there are a couple of others in there with good form.
“It is a hard race, but we’ve got to get going with her. She travels nicely in her races and she likes a bit of softer ground, so conditions will be fine for her.
“In terms of ability she has got to go do it at this level and that means she has to step up on her win at Perth.
“I think she has got potential, though, as she has had two runs and nothing has beaten her and if we can stretch that to three wins unbeaten it would be even better.”
Vision Du Puy and Zambella are the two four-year-olds in the line-up, with the seven-strong field made up by Indefatigable, Aweeminit, Diamond Gait, Hijran and Smaoineamh Alainn.