Harry Fry may only be just starting out on his second season as a licenced trainer but the Seaborough handler is already making waves in the sport. The former assistant to Paul Nicholls ventured out on his own just over 12 months ago and managed to impress everyone, as he picked up 20 winners during his first season. That was an impressive tally for Fry but plans are already afoot to increase that number this winter, with over 40 horses now housed at the idyllic Manor Farm stables.
Rock on Ruby relaxing at home
We were lucky enough to visit Fry this week as he prepared stable star Rock On Ruby for his mouth-watering seasonal debut at Kempton on Sunday. An early season clash with The New One is perhaps not ideal for either camp but Fry is more than happy for the horse to take his chance.
"Wherever we go, it is a competitive division" Fry said. "He (Rock On Ruby) needs an outing to put the finishing touches on him and this is a great opportunity to get him out early in October, then we will be bang ready to go for the bigger targets."
The Coral Hurdle at Ascot next month is likely to be one of those bigger targets for the horse if he comes out of Kempton well, before a return to Cheltenham for the International Hurdle in December. His second place behind Hurricane Fly in defence of the Champion Hurdle last season remains rock solid form and until proven otherwise, Rock On Ruby clearly sets the standard for British hurdlers.
Any thoughts that Harry Fry was a one horse trainer were clearly put to bed last season with those 20 winners to his name. The success of Opening Batsman in the Racing Plus Chase at Kempton was perhaps the best evidence of his growing reputation,
"To go and win a race like that on a Saturday. it changed everything." Recalled Fry. "It was a great confidence boost for the yard."
Punters can expect to see Opening Batsman start off at Ascot in the United House Chase before he goes to the Hennessy Gold Cup as a second season chaser at Newbury. How he performs in those two races will tell connections how good he is with a Grand National entry not ruled out at this stage.
There is no doubt that Rock On Ruby and Opening Batsman are the leading lights for Fry but perhaps just as impressive is the number of younger horses in the yard. A good mix of novices and bumper horses litter the boxes at Manor Farm and the handler is clearly hopeful he has some good ones to go to war with.
"We are lucky; we have got a number of nice horses coming through potentially. Something might come out of the woodwork and be a real star for us." Fry said optimistically.
Karinga Dancer is certainly one of those with potential and he will be going chasing after running in the Persian War at Chepstow at the end of October.
He was an impressive novice hurdle winner at Taunton last time out and according to Fry, works very well alongside Rock On Ruby at home.
"Everything he (Karinga Dancer) shows us at home is good. We have been delighted with him and he will start off at Chepstow in the Persian War before going novice chasing." Fry said as he picked him out as 'one to follow' this season.
Fry has previous with French imports from his time as the Assistant trainer to Paul Nicholls and in Vukovar, he looks to have a nice one on his hands at Manor Farm. He was unbeaten in France and has been impressing the staff at home since arriving in Dorset with a novice chasing campaign on the cards.
"He has done everything right; we were delighted when he arrived." Fry said of Vukovar. "He is a lovely big 4yo, he has a chaser written all over him."
Bumper horses to have already run well for the yard this season include Assam Black and Thomas Brown while the likes of Mendip Express, who will go novice chasing, and flat recruit Handsome Ransom are also making an impression on the team down in north Dorset.
It is certainly a team effort as far as Fry is concerned with girlfriend Ciara O'Connor playing a key role in the outfit as Assistant trainer. It is Frys' name on the licence but it is obvious that the help of O'Connor and the rest of the stable staff is vital to such a young yard.
"We wouldn't be doing it without her (O'Connor), nothing about this is a one man show, it is very much a team effort here." Fry confirmed during our chat.
It is clear that Fry is looking to build a team with the future in mind, on and off the course, and given how well his career has gone so far, it would be no surprise to see him rise through the training ranks over the next five years. Rock On Ruby remains the star turn but there appears to be enough strength and depth at the yard to ensure that more big race wins could be just around the corner.