Unowhatimeanharry improves again to leave Fry breathless
Harry Fry became accustomed to increasingly pleasant surprises from Unowhatimeanharry in an unbeaten novice campaign that culminated in Grade 1 success at Cheltenham, yet he was totally unprepared for a performance as good as his six-length defeat of favourite Ballyoptic in the Grade 2 bet365 Long Distance Hurdle.
Racing for the first time in the colours of JP McManus following a private sale, and with Barry Geraghty taking over from last season's regular rider Noel Fehily, the eight-year-old was simply devastating.
Betfred on Friday night made him 9-2 joint-favourite with Faugheen for the World Hurdle, while he was a slightly bigger 13-2 with Betway.
Fry said: "Watching that just takes your breath away. In our wildest dreams we couldn't have expected him to come out today and win like that. He's won by further than he did at any point last season.
"It’s extraordinary. We've taken our time getting him out this season and he had it all to do on ratings, yet he's gone and done it again. His races will pick themselves from here, starting with the Long Walk at Ascot in three weeks. I'm absolutely thrilled to bits."
Geraghty spoke in similar vein and said: "I'd never sat on him before but you would have to be impressed. He travelled really well, jumped really well and saw it out well. At all stages he was doing what you'd like a horse to do.
"Ascot will be tougher and the opposition there will tell us how good he is, but hopefully he can keep it up."
Obeaux obviously going places
Clan Des Obeaux has a hard act to follow after landing the novice chase formerly won by Gold Cup winners Bobs Worth, Coneygree and Denman, but he may yet prove that class, such was the impression he made in winning a competitive affair with any amount in hand.
Trainer Paul Nicholls said: "He jumps and gallops, and this track suits him. He's got a big future, but he’s only four and I've got to be really careful and look after him.
"I haven't any thoughts on what we do now, but he wants two and a half or further and jumps absolutely brilliantly. A horse that gallops and jumps like that is going to go places, and Sean [Bowen] said he's the best horse he's ever sat on."
Clan Des Obeaux was on Friday night between a 10-1 and 14-1 shot for Cheltenham's JLT Novices' Chase.
Sandy sees his star shine
Owner Paul Sandy had an eye operation on Monday, but he had a perfect view of Jenkins' victory in the maiden hurdle.
Trained by Nicky Henderson, who was winning the race for the fifth time since 2009, and ridden by Geraghty, Jenkins is thought to be near the top of the Seven Barrows pecking order of novice hurdlers and did nothing to weaken that view.
He was left unchanged at 10-1 by sponsor Sky Bet for the Supreme Novices' Hurdle and Sandy said: "I've been dreaming about that since April and I could see it well enough."
Henderson, who completed a double when Reigning Supreme won the novice hurdle – which meant a treble for Geraghty – added: "I thought it was an excellent performance. He's very smart and will have learned tonnes today."
Dennis the menace
David Dennis, whose father Walter saddled Coome Hill to win the Hennessy Gold Cup 20 years ago, enjoyed the biggest success of his training career when Roman Flight landed the £50,000 handicap chase under Noel Fehily.
"It was a great ride and it's a nice pot to win," said Dennis. "The horse has won more than £100,000 and owes us nothing."
Roger Brookhouse, whose Stilletto suffered a fatal injury when falling in the race that meant jockey Brendan Powell was taken to hospital for a shoulder x-ray, had better fortune in the Pertemps qualifier as his Solomn Grundy ran out the winner.
Thought for the day
ITV4 will cover this meeting in 2017 and, if it is half as good again, it will merit it. Channel 4 missed an opportunity.