Cheltenham Festival Trials day is nearly here! We’re excited to see which horses stand out and make our predictions as to who will come out on top at The Cheltenham Festival in March. Trainer, Harry Fry, is more than confident that If The Cap Fits has what it takes to secure a win in the Cleeve Hurdle on Saturday.
There is set to be some stiff competition for this year’s Cleeve Hurdle with names such as Apple’s Jade and Summerville Boy in the running but the ultimate one to watch will be none other than Paisley Park. Having won last year’s Cleeve Hurdle and then going on to win The Stayers Hurdle at The Cheltenham Festival, Paisley Park is certainly a horse to be revered.
Last year there were two other Festival Trials winners who went on to become victorious at the Festival. Frodon came first place in the Grade 2 Trial Cotswold Chase and went onto win the Grade 1 Ryanair Chase with Jockey Bryony Frost. We also saw Siruh Du Lac come first in the Grade 3 Handicap Chase and then reign supreme in the Stable Plate Handicap. It just goes to show how telling Festival Trials Day can be!
Despite the fact that this will be If The Cap Fits’ first run at Cheltenham, Fry is still assured that the eight year old has what it takes to become a Cheltenham champ. Fry commented that ‘he worked very nicely at the weekend, so it’s all systems go. It’ll be the first time at the track and we’re looking forward to it’. He went onto mention that ‘he’s got a great attitude and real battling qualities; he’ll need all of those on Saturday. It’ll be interesting to see where we stand with him. The handicapper makes it 3lb, so we’ll see. It’s a fascinating clash.’
Owned by Paul and Clare Rooney, If The Cap Fits came first in the Grade 2 Coral Hurdle at Ascot last November alongside jockey Sean Bowen. Having also won the race in 2018, it was a gripping battle which saw Call Me Lord, ridden by Nico de Boinville, come in at a close second.
In addition to this, he also won the Grade 1 Ryanair Stayers Hurdle at Aintree last April in what was an incredibly enthralling race. It seemed as though Apple’s Jade had it in the bag, taking the lead for the majority of the run. However, it was after the final hurdle when If The Cap Fits and Roksana burst forth and came in first and second place respectively.
Although If The Cap Fits has not run a race since Ascot last November, Fry is still confident that he will go far at the weekend. ‘It took a bit more out of him than we thought at the time but we’re very happy with him. We’re lucky to have a horse of his calibre to run at the big meetings on a Saturday.’
Despite Paisley Park being the favourite to win the Cleeve Hurdle, Fry believes that this isn’t simply a ‘two horse race’. With Apple’s Jade and Summerville Boy also in the running, we are all very eager to see how the competition plays out.