Harry Fry believes Unowhatimeanharry will have to be at his best if he is to defy his advancing years and claim a third victory in the Ladbrokes Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury on Friday week.
The evergreen 11-year-old will bid to become just the third horse in the history of the Grade Two prize to record a hat-trick, having claimed the race for the second time 12 months ago following his inaugural victory in 2016.
Having won a fourth Grade One with his second victory in the Champion Stayers Hurdle at Punchestown in May, the JP McManus-owned gelding made an encouraging comeback when finding only The Worlds End too strong in the West Yorkshire Hurdle at Wetherby earlier this month.
Fry said: “We are looking forward to bringing him back for the Long Distance Hurdle, which will be the fourth time he has run in the race.
“He has a pretty good track record in it, although it will probably be the most competitive renewal he has run in. If all those being aimed at turn up it will be tough, but he owes us nothing and we look forward to running him here.
“Having won the Grade One at Punchestown in April he was giving a penalty away at Wetherby, but we are just looking forward to running him in a race.”
Unowhatimeanharry warmed up for his next start with a racecourse gallop under now-retired 20-time champion jockey Sir Anthony McCoy at the Berkshire track on Tuesday morning, alongside stablemates Mr One More and King Roland.
Fry added: “He very much enjoyed his spin round there. He only ran a couple of weeks ago at Wetherby, so it was just a case of getting him away for a change of scenery.
“He enjoyed his morning out and has come back in with a real spring in his step.”
Lining up alongside Unowhatimeanharry will be the Colin Tizzard-trained 2015 winner Thistlecrack, who also worked at the course, in company with the Ladbrokes Trophy-bound Mister Malarky.
Assistant trainer Joe Tizzard said: “He will probably come here next Friday in the Long Distance Hurdle and then all roads lead to the King George.
“I’m sure he will need a run next week, but it is all about getting him bang on for the King George.
“Hopefully there is a bit left in the tank with him. He is not getting any younger and physically he is not easy to train. I hope there is still another big one in him.”
Reigning Stayers’ Hurdle hero Paisley Park continued his preparations for his return to action in the three-mile prize after taking part in his second gallop at the track in the space of the last three weeks, under regular work rider Barry Fenton.
Trainer Emma Lavelle said: “Paisley Park is in great order and I was very happy how this morning went.
“He has taken a bit more work to get fit this season. He did that with his ears pricked, though, and seems in great form.”