Trainer Harry Fry returned home to Dorset from Cheltenham yesterday “with our tails between our legs,” but he bounced out in winning form on day three of the November meeting.
Victory for 11/4 favourite Melrose Boy in the Velcourt Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle was Fry’s third consecutive success in the race, and a fourth for this stable conditional jockey Kieron Edgar, who rode both his boss’s 2016 winner, and two for David Pipe (2014 & 2013).
The success was some consolation for Fry, who yesterday saddled Kylemore Lough, the 4/1 favourite for the day’s big race, the BetVictor Gold Cup, and suffered a bitter disappointment when the horse pulled up. He had been prominent until dragging his hind legs through the water, and dropped back through the field a few fences later.
Of Melrose Boy, who is owned by Paul and Clare Rooney, Fry said: “We did a bad job last season by not winning a race with him, but once he had a [handicap] mark we thought about this. The EBF Final at Newbury in March was a thought, but he got some pus in a foot and then the ground went against him. He takes plenty of work, he’s a big horse, and we decided this was the right race to start off.
“It’s been a good race for us so we are delighted. Kieron gave him a lovely ride and Clare and Paul Rooney have been very patient with the horse. As with our two previous winners of the race, he’s breaking his maiden tag, so now we have all the options open to us in a novice’s season.
“Kieron walked the course and felt the outside was the place to be and he’s a good rider who knows the place. This is his second season with us.”
Of Kylemore Lough, Fry said: “He’s fine. We went home with tails between our legs last night, but we learned plenty about him and so did Noel [Fehily]. The problem was learning about him on the big stage, but we got it wrong. Noel can’t wait to go again and to ride him more patiently.
“His jumping was so quick and slick that he jumped himself to the front after three, and Noel said he thought the horse switched himself off and he couldn’t switch him back on. The mistake at the water didn’t help and then the race had gone from him. He pulled up in case there was something wrong, but the horse came back not knowing he had been in a race.
“It’s back to the drawing board and the horse was fine. Obviously, Kerry [Lee, the horse’s former trainer] did a very good job with him, and the pressure is on us to match that and even more so now. It will be a rethink and away we go again.”
KING KIERON DOES IT AGAIN
Kieron Edgar was all smiles after landing the Velcourt Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle on board Melrose Boy at Cheltenham this afternoon.
The conditional jockey has made this race his own over the past few years and was celebrating his fourth success in five years, following victories on Behind Time in 2016 (also for Melrose Boy’s trainer Harry Fry), Unique de Cotte in 2014 and Home Run in 2013 (both for trainer David Pipe).
It was also Fry’s third victory in the race in as many years, following Behind Time’s success last year and Unowhatimeanharry’s win in 2015.
The pair were always travelling sweetly on the rain-softened ground and had plenty in hand as they justified 11/4 favouritism by six lengths.
Edgar was delighted to chalk up another win in the race again.
“It’s great to get another winner at Cheltenham,” said the jockey.
“I was going through his form last night and it was all there for everyone to see. He’s a stronger horse than he was last year and we were hoping he’d improve again. In fairness, he has and, as you’ve seen there, he’s won really well.
“I walked the course before I came and most of the field wanted to go wide. I thought I’d go that way and it paid off. To be fair, it was all very straightforward apart from the last, which was down to me getting excited.
“I gave him a squeeze but he knew better and got me out of jail. He’s a nice horse.”
1.15pm Velcourt Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle
1 MELROSE BOY (Paul & Clare Rooney) Harry Fry 5-11-07 Kieron Edgar (3) 11/4 Fav
2 Charlie’s Charm (Pique Syndicate Partnership) Gavin Cromwell IRE 5-10-09 Jack Sherwood 33/1
3 Sheer Poetry (Richard Weeks) Richard Woollacott 6-10-06 Robert Hawker (3) 40/1
4 Lip Service (Malcolm Denmark) Fergal O’Brien 8-11-06 Richard Patrick 10/1
Distances: 6, 2¾, 6
Tote Win: £3.80 Places: £1.40; £6.50; £11.00; £2.70 Exacta: £112.90
CHARM TAKES THE OPPORTUNITY
Charlie’s Charm was a six-length second behind winner Melrose Boy in the opening race of The November Meeting Sunday, the Velcourt Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle, at odds of 33/1.
The Golan five-year-old is trained in Ireland by Gavin Cromwell, who said: “That was great – we just bumped into a better handicapped one. The syndicate [Pique Syndicate Partnership] who own him are over here for the weekend, so it was a great opportunity and I thought the horse had a good each-way chance. We’ll find a handicap somewhere at home for him next.”
Jockey Jack Sherwood said: “He ran really well and just bumped into one who was better handicapped.”
Third place went to another long-priced runner, the 40/1 shot Sheer Poetry, representing trainer Richard Woollacott and jockey Robert Hawker. The Yeats mare finished a further two and three-quarter lengths behind Charlie’s Charm.
Woollacott said: “She’s lovely – a great, fun mare and we are over the moon. We weren’t sure she would handle the soft ground, but she did and the jockey gave her a lovely ride.”
JOCKEYS ON GROUND
The jockeys who rode in the first race on day three of The November Meeting 2017, the Velcourt Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle, gave their opinions on the ground.
Kieron Edgar, riding the six-length winner Melrose Boy described the ground as: “Very sticky, it’s tough work out there.”
Jack Sherwood, rider of the second-placed Charlie’s Charm, said: “It’s very hard work.”
Richard Patrick, rider of fourth-placed Lip Service, remarked: “Soft.”
Ciaran Gethings, jockey of Buckle Street (5th), said: “It’s very desperate ground out there. It will be heavy by the end of the day.”
Mikey Hamill, jockey of Maguire’s Glen (7th), commented: “It’s very tacky and dead out there.”
Charlie Deutsch, partner of Gran Maestro (10th), remarked: “It’s soft ground and very tough work out there.”
Harry Stock, rider of Cottersrock (12th), said: “It’s very soft, tiring ground out there.”
Fergus Gregory, riding Tynecastle Park (P/U), remarked: “It’s soft and very sticky.”
Jamie Bargary, partnering Another Frontier (P/U), commented: “It’s dead/tacky ground.”
Charlie Hammond, jockey of Tempuran (P/U), said: “It’s soft to heavy.”
Max Kendrick, partner of Oski (P/U), commented: “It’s very tacky and holding ground.”
To view a replay of the race, please click here –