Unowhatimeanharry eyes Ascot

HARRY Fry is hoping Unowhatimeanharry can repeat his recent Newbury success in the Grade One JLT Hurdle at Ascot on Saturday.

Unowhatimeanharry and Barry Geragthy will line up in pursuit of Grade One honours at Ascot this Saturday.

The 10-year-old, owned by JP McManus, landed his first victory for 12 months when winning the Long Distance Hurdle for a second time.

Unowhatimeanharry had previously lifted that Grade Two contest at Newbury in 2016 and went on subsequently to win the Ascot Grade One, when it was known as the Long Walk Hurdle.

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“We were delighted, obviously, to get him back in the winner’s enclosure,” said Fry.

“For a minute turning for home it looked like maybe we were in trouble, but in fairness to the horse, as Barry (Geraghty) said, he normally tends to hit a flat spot and he was soon back on it and actually won cosily in the end.

“There was plenty in his favour that day. It was the slower ground and not having to carry a penalty. Saturday is a level weights race and he will have to step up again.”

The disappointment in the Long Distance Hurdle was Jedd O’Keeffe’s Sam Spinner. However, the North Yorkshire horse is due to line up at Ascot and attempt to defend the race that he won 12 months ago under an inspired frontrunning ride by Joe Colliver.

Stuart Edmunds is relishing the prospect of taking on the boys with his stable star Maria’s Benefit in the Wayward Lad Novices’ Chase at Kempton on December 27.

The smart mare, who was victorious at Doncaster earlier this year under regular rider Ciaran Gethings, is on target for a clash with Arkle favourite Kalashnikov and several others of note in the Grade Two.

Edmunds said: “The ground at the moment is good to soft and if it stays like that it would be lovely. We’ve got to take them all on at some point and I think on a flat track it is probably the best place to take him (Kalashnikov) on.”

Pearl Royale attempts to continue her progress over fences by registering a second Listed triumph in the Thoroughbred Breeders Association Mares’ Chase at Newbury. The Nigel Hawke-trained six-year-old overcame a 302-day absence when striking at this level at Carlisle at the beginning of this month, and goes to the Berkshire track in good heart.

“The softer the better for her. We are expecting a good run,” said Hawke.

She will again be ridden by Yorkshire-based jockey Danny Cook, who partnered Eureu Du Boulay to victory at Catterick yesterday for Richard Hobson.

The meeting saw Ross Chapman, one of the season’s leading conditionals, complete a double on Yorkshire-trained runners courtesy of the Sharon Watt-trained Too Many Chiefs and Sweet Vinetta from the yard of Gillian Boanas.

Champion apprentice Jason Watson will ride as No 1 jockey to Roger Charlton in 2019.

Watson has taken the racing world by storm this season, stamping his authority on the apprentice race and hitting the headlines in the summer when winning the Stewards’ Cup at Glorious Goodwood for Hugo Palmer aboard Gifted Master.

The teenager also bagged Group One honours for Luca Cumani through God Given.

“He is very strong, stylish, determined and he has a good understanding of race tactics. You only have to watch the ride he gave to God Given when she won her Group One for Luca Cumani in Italy to realise how good he is,” said Charlton, a former Derby-winning trainer.

“He has ridden 110 winners this year, and in winning the apprentice championship by a margin of 26 winners he rode more winners than any other apprentice since Paul Hanagan in 2002; more than Oisin Murphy, William Buick and David Probert.

“Adam McNamara will continue to ride as our second jockey. He is part of the team here and knows the horses well. He has now ridden over 100 winners and rode 20 per cent of our total this year.”