Breaking into the upper echelons of the training ranks can be a tough ask when it comes to Jumps Racing, but Harry Fry is one man who continues to make major steps towards the top level.
The Seaborough based trained enjoyed his first Grade 1 success last season as Unowhatimeanharry claimed the Albert Bartlett at the Cheltenham Festival, and the good times have continued this term.
With over two months of the season left to go, Fry and his team are on course to top their best ever campaign in terms of both winners, and prize money, and he puts that down to the new found depth in the yard.
"We have increased from 20 horses in my first season, to 75 now, and thankfully we have been able to boost the quality, not just the quantity, of horses in the yard. We have a strong group of novice hurdlers who all look like making future chasers." Fry confirmed when we sat down for a chat at his Dorset base recently.
"We are always looking for those top level winners so it is fantastic to already have another Grade 1 winner in the bag this season (Unowhatimeanharry won the Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot in December)."
It is a tight knit team at Seaborough with Harry's wife Ciara an Assistant Trainer, and their 2YO daughter Ruby is a regular on the gallops at the scenic stables.
"Ruby loves saying hello to all the lads in the morning and she is a firm part of the team. She has her own pony and even rides Rock On Ruby (who is still at the stable in retirement) around the yard!"
Attention at this time of year inevitably turns to the major spring Festivals, and Fry will hopefully be sending his strongest team to-date to Cheltenham next month. Don't expect an army heading to Prestburty Park though with around 6-10 horses set to make the trip for the biggest four days in the sport.
Harry Gives us the lowdown on some of his stable stars...
Unowhatimeanharry seen relaxing in his stable.
"We dreamt last summer that he might turn into a top 3m hurdler but to make the leap he has done this season has been extraordinary. He cantered down the hill in the Cleeve last time out."
"He has been A1 since the Cleeve which is fantastic and we hope we can get him there (to the Stayers' Hurdle) in similar sort of form to he has been showing in his last few races."
"The old saying is that good horses go on any ground and he seems to cope with anything thrown at him."
"We are enjoying the journey with him. There is a certain mount of pressure as favourite for a big race, but he has already far exceeded any expectations we had with him, so it's been fantastic."
Neon Wolf ready for a day of training.
"We loved him since he first arrived but it wasn't until we took him away for a gallop that he really came alive."
"The more racing he's had, the more he has come alive. He's showing a good turn of foot at home and the Haydock win gives us plenty of options to consider."
"Cheltenham might not be the be-all-and-end-all for him this season, but at the same time he is an exciting horse who you would like to take. The ground is the key and we won't make a final decision until the week before.
"We can they weigh up whether he goes to the Supreme or the Neptune, depending on opposition, but he goes chasing next season, and he will be looked after with the future in mind."
"American is such a fragile horse and he needs plenty of time in between his races."
"It really is one day at a time with him but if we can get him there, and the ground is soft enough, the RSA Chase would be the target."
"It's frustrating he is as fragile as he is but when he runs, we have to make sure everything is in his favour."
"Fletchers Flyer is entered at Ascot on Saturday but we have made no secret of the fact that Irish Grand National is his main target in the spring."
"A tilt at the National Hunt Chase remains possible for him but that will depend on how he goes this weekend. He could go straight to Fairyhouse."
"His owners have loved going to Punchestown and the Irish National has been the 100% target ever since he crossed the line at that Festival last season. His best form all seems to have been going right handed."
"He had a hold up over Christmas and still isn't quite right so he is out of training at the moment."
"He is a lovely big horse but he isn't going anywhere at the moment."
"The Racing Post rated him 150 after his win at Market Rasen but he didn't jump well enough that day, which was frustrating."
"The plan is to give him another run, possibly at Exeter next Friday, with a view to seeing some improvement in his jumping."
"He could well go to the Albert Bartlett, but he has taken a while to come to himself."
"He's an out and out stayer and his last run at Musselburgh turned into a bit of a sprint."
"He qualified for the Pertemps Final finishing 4th, and he will get in off 140 so he will go there."
"We are back over hurdles with him as we want to preserve his novice status over fences until next season."
"A big horse who will be better again after another summer. He's entered this Saturday at Ascot and that will tell us plenty more about him.
"He has Neptune and Albert Bartlett entries but he is a big baby who is going to be a cracking chaser next season, so we will see how this weekend goes."
"He got stuck in the mud at Huntingdon the other day, and he won't be going down the novice route at Cheltenham."
"They might be a handicap for him at the Festival, but he might drop back to an ordinary novice under a penalty and maybe look at Aintree instead"
"He will be entered in a couple of the handicap chases at the Festival, but he is being trained with the Topham Chase in mind over the National fences."
"He has had a bit of break but he is a top of the ground horse and he could easily line up in the Plate at Cheltenham on the way to Aintree."