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Fry readying big guns for Festival Trials Day

Press Release 21st January 2020 Cheltenham

If The Cap Fits is set to provide stiff opposition to Paisley Park in the £60,000 G2 Cleeve Hurdle (3.35pm, 3m, 11 entries), one of five graded contests at Cheltenham on Festival Trials Day this Saturday, 25 January.

If The Cap Fits, who races in the familiar colours of Paul and Clare Rooney, relished the step up to three miles on his final start last season, gamely defeating Roksana and Apple's Jade (Gordon Elliott IRE) in the G1 Stayers' Hurdle at Aintree's Grand National Festival in April.

Trained by Harry Fry, the eight-year-old has had a light campaign so far this term, with his sole start resulting in a battling success over Call Me Lord in the G2 Ascot Hurdle over just shy of two and a half miles in November. He was winning that contest for the second year in succession.

That victory under a penalty has left If The Cap Fits with a career-high rating of 166, just 3lb shy of last year's G1 Stayers' Hurdle champion Paisley Park (Emma Lavelle).

Fry said: "The Cleeve Hurdle is the plan for If The Cap Fits, as long as the ground is not too testing.

"It is his first run at the track, but it will give him plenty of experience of Cheltenham before the Stayers' Hurdle in March.

"It will be great to finally take on Paisley Park. Our horse is improving all the time and it promises to be a fascinating race."

Fry may allow exciting novice King Roland to take his chance in the £32,000 G2 Ballymore Novices' Hurdle (3.00pm, 15 entries) over an extended two and a half miles.

King Roland would be stepping up in distance after not coming out of second gear to win a maiden hurdle by 19 lengths at Exeter on New Year's Day.

The trainer added: "King Roland is a possible for Cheltenham on Saturday.

"He is a horse with an exciting future, and I was delighted with his performance at Exeter.

"We will make a decision towards the end of the week before deciding whether he runs, but he is a horse I like a lot.

"A step up in trip will be important for him going forward."

King Roland could clash with unbeaten point-to-point graduate Sporting John (Philip Hobbs), who has caught the eye with two impressive victories over hurdles at Exeter. The five-year-old is owned by J P McManus after being sold for £160,000 at the Tattersalls Cheltenham Festival Sale in March.

An informative renewal of the G2 £100,000 Paddy Power Cotswold Chase (2.25pm, 3m 1f 56y) looks likely with several leading Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup contenders among the nine entries.

Santini (Nicky Henderson), the 5/4 favourite with Paddy Power, could renew rivalry with Irish star Delta Work (Gordon Elliott IRE). The pair finished second and third in a top-class renewal of last season's G1 RSA Insurance Novices' Chase at The Festival™ presented by Magners.

Multiple G1 scorer Bristol De Mai (Nigel Twiston-Davies) is set to fly the flag for the older generations, having been kept fresh since finishing second to Lostintranslation in the G1 Betfair Chase at Haydock Park in November.

De Rasher Counter (Emma Lavelle), winner of the prestigious Ladbrokes Trophy last time out, and Rowland Meyrick Handicap Chase scorer Top Ville Ben (Phil Kirby) are also earmarked to run.

Paddy Power Cotswold Chase - Paddy Power prices: 5/4 Santini; 7/4 Bristol De Mai; 5/1 Delta Work; 13/2 Top Ville Ben; 7/1 De Rasher Counter; 10/1 Slate House; 20/1 Alpha Des Obeaux, Mister Whitaker; 33/1 Ex Patriot

The other graded contests on the card are the £70,000 G3 Paddy Power 45 Sleeps To Cheltenham Trophy Handicap Chase (1.50pm, 2m 4f 127y, 19 entries) and the £32,000 G2 JCB Triumph Hurdle Trial Juvenile Hurdle (12.40 pm, 2m 179y, 14 entries).

Racing starts at 12.40pm and ends at 4.10pm.

The going at Cheltenham is Soft, with the outlook dry and milder by the weekend.


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