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    Luck Turns Around for Harry Fry In Excelsis Deo
Luck Turns Around for Harry Fry In Excelsis Deo
Excelsis Deo. Source: Racing365

Luck Turns Around for Harry Fry In Excelsis Deo

Harry Fry ended a challenging winter on a positive note when Hymac, with odds of 25-1, secured a double victory for the stable in the 3m4f handicap chase at Cheltenham. This hard-earned success followed a change of luck for In Excelsis Deo, owned by JP McManus, in the Grade 2 Matt Hampson Foundation Silver Trophy. In February, the six-year-old had fallen while in contention at Sandown, and then faced a difficult journey before finishing strongly in fifth place at the Cheltenham Festival Plate.

However, despite requiring significant effort from jockey Jonathan Burke, In Excelsis Deo triumphed by a margin of four and three-quarter lengths. Fry expressed his satisfaction, stating, "It's not been the best of winters, to put it mildly, so to come here and have two nice winners, it's great," Fry said. "The two horses have been progressing but not getting there through the course of the season, so it's nice to finish on a high note.

Fry further expressed his relief at finally seeing In Excelsis Deo win, saying, "I'm relieved to finally get In Excelsis Deo's head in front. We've been in various spots in this winner's enclosure, so it's good to have finally won. He's been running well and stayed consistent without having the luck of running. 

He praised Jonathan Burke for providing an excellent ride, carefully guiding the horse and noting that at the bottom of the hill, it seemed to be the closest In Excelsis Deo had come to winning all season. Fry added, "We were hopeful that he would maintain his momentum up the hill, as he had done in a few previous races."

Hymac had displayed potential for a while, but he had been experiencing a dry spell leading up to a Newton Abbot bumper in 2022.

Fry commented, "He was in a great rhythm and it took him two or three runs to really get his confidence over fences. Last time, even though he was runner-up, we were happy with the way he jumped. He was ready to run well in a good race and I'm delighted to see him win."

Dan Skelton. Source: The Stratford Observer
Dan Skelton. Source: The Stratford Observer

Skelton moves closer to the finish line

Dan Skelton narrowed the distance between himself and Willie Mullins in the exciting competition for the jumps trainers' championship. This happened when Doyen Quest, ridden by Harry Skelton, exhibited a burst of speed towards the end of the 2m4½f handicap hurdle race and overtook Whatsupwithyou.

By winning the race, Skelton earned £13,007.50 in prize money. As a result, he is now £39,800 behind Mullins in the championship standings. Paul Nicholls, who had no winners among his two runners, is even further behind, trailing by £78,640.

Skelton has an opportunity to close the gap with Mullins even more on Thursday, as he will be fielding seven runners at the track.

Achievement set by Wadham

Zain Nights ensured a remarkable victory for the Newmarket stable, solidifying their position as the best jumps season on record, all within the illustrious Cheltenham setting. In the 3m handicap hurdle race, the talented five-year-old demonstrated significant progress by leading the pack under the skilled guidance of Bryony Frost. This triumph marked the horse's third win of the season, an impressive feat considering its previous three years of racing on the Flat.

The victory was a significant milestone for Wadham, as it marked their 25th win of the exceptional season. Reflecting on the achievement, Wadham expressed her delight, stating, "That was fantastic, that's our best-ever total, so I'm very happy. 

"To have done it here was just great. I think we've had a bit better quality this season and they've all been healthy, which helps. We've been banging them in regularly rather than just having that golden spell.

Wadham noted that Zain Nights had improved since transitioning to longer distances and thoroughly enjoyed the ground conditions during the race. The team's plan was for Bryony Frost to bring the horse forward in the later stages, which they executed perfectly. It was an ideal ride that led to victory and further cemented their accomplishments.

Nicky Henderson. Source: Daily Express
Nicky Henderson. Source: Daily Express

Henderson’s time

Nicky Henderson returned triumphantly to the winner's circle at Cheltenham as Peaky Boy secured victory in the 2m4½f novice hurdle, following in the footsteps of esteemed horses from Henderson's stable like Whisper and Might Bite.

The six-year-old gelding built upon his previous win on New Year's Day, displaying an impressive performance to defeat Diamond Ri. This accomplishment marked Henderson's first success at the track since Sir Gino's triumph on Trials Day in January.

In a lighthearted manner, Henderson remarked, "It's a long time since I've been here. He's a nice horse who has a future over fences. His first run here took a bit out of him and he's a bit like that. He'll strengthen up and toughen up, but will be lovely to go chasing with next season."

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