Stan James Champion Hurdle 2012 - Analysis
Fry, 25, looks after Rock On Ruby at Richard Barber’s Seaborough Manor stable 25 miles from Nicholls’ Ditcheat base.
“I started riding out for Richard when I was 13 and I wanted to be a jockey but as you can see I’m 6 foot 3 inches tall so it was never going to last too long and gave up point-to-pointing after a while,” said Fry, who originally hails from Halstock in Dorset. “After my gap year I was set to go to university but Richard said I didn’t want to be doing that and got me a job with Paul.
“I couldn’t do it without my girlfriend, Ciara (O’Connor). She looks after Rock On Ruby at home and I definitely come number two to the horse in her eyes.
“Our yard is 25 miles and about 40 minutes from Paul’s stable. Richard Barber has been training pointers there for years and years and when I was offered the chance to take this job I didn’t need a second thought. I was very lucky to work for Paul, I learned the job from a set up where winners happen.
“We’ve got some good horses including King Of The Night, who is rated 157 and runs in the Ladbrokes World Hurdle, Violin Davis, who does all her work with Rock On Ruby, and of course Chapoturgeon, who runs in the Christie’s Foxhunter Chase on Friday.
“I’ve been very keen on Rock On Ruby all year. I thought with the likes of Cue Card and Menorah going over fences then there was a gap that could appear in the hurdling division. He obviously had to keep progressing.
“All we said to (jockey) Noel (Fehily) was to be positive, because we knew the horse would stay. He’s kicked on for home and he’s a year older and stronger.
“The partnership was put together by Richard Barber and includes six people, including Richard’s sons Chris and Jason. The name is nothing to do with Ruby Walsh, it’s because one of the owners has a shop called Ruby.”
Richard Barber added: “It’s unbelievable but we thought that we had a chance. Coming down the hill, we had every bit of a chance - Noel’s extended his lead and had them all at it - and it’s a dream come true for us.
“This is a bunch of friends who got together, put £5,000 in apiece. Everybody was told to flush the money down the toilet - we have been offered a lot of money for the horse and nobody had accepted. These are the fruits of our labour and we can’t describe it.”
PAUL NICHOLLS AND NOEL FEHILY
Noel Fehily: “I’ve missed the last two Festivals but today more than made up for it. You think winning a race like this is never going to happen to you.
“Paul asked me to ride a couple of weeks ago and spare mounts don’t come much better than this. It’s difficult to get on the good horses and you need to do that to win the good races.
“I knew the horse was fit and I was going to make plenty of use of him because I knew he’d stay up the hill. I thought I say ‘catch me if you can’ to them. I was looking forward to him and he came into the race in great form.
“I was always confident he’d get to Overturn, I just wanted him to lead for as long as possible and he stayed on really well up the hill in front. He’s a good tough horse and I was just praying that Ruby (Walsh on Hurricane Fly) was not sitting quietly on my tail, as he does.
“Paul never said this horse was his second string, he always said he was as good as the other fellow, and gave me confidence before I got on him.
“Harry said the horse couldn’t be better and that was good enough for me. Hurricane Fly was a worthy favourite but it’s a horse race and you have to believe you can beat any horse. You can’t go into a race thinking you can’t win.”
Paul Nicholls: “Richard Barber is the godfather of the whole thing, he got me where I am and let Harry (Fry) get on with it. You’ll be hearing a lot more about Harry, as you will about my assistant Dan (Skelton). Harry was my pupil assistant for five or six years and when he wanted to move on I said to go to Richard. It’s a win for Team Ditcheat, that now includes the satellite yard that is Team Seaborough.
“We’ve been under the cosh a bit in the last three week and that’s one of the great things having the yard at Seaborough because they have not had the coughing we have had.
“I’m even more pleased because I had a £500 bet at 14/1 on him the other evening.
“The tactics proved spot on, he didn’t want to be in front too soon but at the same point he didn’t want to be too far behind and tapped for toe.
“I pleased for Noel, things just didn’t work out for him. He was going to ride Big Buck’s a couple of years ago then got injured but he’s a very good jockey.
“Let’s get today over with before we think about whether he’ll run again this season. There is quite a good gap before Aintree so he could go there.
“Quite often horses that have run well in the Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle over two and a half miles do well in the Champion Hurdle because they stay very well.
“I didn’t think Zarkandar looked brilliant when the rug came off him and I think it may have been the combination of having a hard race at Newbury and the coughing in our yard.”
SMURFIT KAPPA CHAMPION HURDLE RESULTS
2011-WINNER-HURRICANE FLY 7-11-10 Owner-George Creighton & Mrs Rose Boyd; Trainer-Willie Mullins IRE; Jockey-Ruby Walsh; SP-11/4 Fav 2ND-Peddlers Cross 6-11-10 Owner-Tim Leslie; Trainer-Donald McCain; Jockey-Jason Maguire; SP-9/2
2010-WINNER-BINOCULAR 6-11-10 Owner-J P McManus; Trainer-Nicky Henderson; Jockey-A P McCoy; SP-9/1
2009-WINNER-PUNJABI 6-11-10 Owner-Raymond Tooth; Trainer-Nicky Henderson; Jockey-Barry Geraghty; SP-22/1
2008-WINNER-KATCHIT 5-11-10 Owner-D S J P Syndicate; Trainer-Alan King; Jockey-Robert Thornton; SP-10/1
2007-WINNER-SUBLIMITY 7-11-10 Owner-Bill Hennessy; Trainer-John Carr IRE; Jockey-Philip Carberry; SP-16/1
2006-WINNER-BRAVE INCA 8-11-10 Owner-Novices Syndicate; Trainer-Colm Murphy IRE; Jockey-Tony McCoy; SP-7/4 Fav
2005-WINNER-HARDY EUSTACE 8-11-10 Owner-Lar Byrne; Trainer-Dessie Hughes IRE; Jockey-Conor O’Dwyer; SP-
2004-WINNER-HARDY EUSTACE 7-11-10 Owner-Lar Byrne; Trainer-Dessie Hughes IRE; Jockey-Conor O’Dwyer; SP-33/1
2003-WINNER-ROOSTER BOOSTER 9-12-00 Owner-Terry Warner; Trainer-Philip Hobbs; Jockey-Richard Johnson; SP-9/2
2002-WINNER-HORS LA LOI III 7-12-00 Owner-Paul Green; Trainer-James Fanshawe; Jockey-Dean Gallagher; SP-10/1
2000-WINNER-ISTABRAQ 8-12-00 Owner-J P McManus; Trainer-Aidan O’Brien IRE; Jockey-Charlie Swan; SP-8/15 Fav
1999-WINNER-ISTABRAQ 7-12-00 Owner-J P McManus; Trainer-Aidan O’Brien IRE; Jockey-Charlie Swan; SP-4/9 Fav
1998-WINNER-ISTABRAQ 6-12-00 Owner-J P McManus; Trainer-Aidan O’Brien IRE; Jockey-Charlie Swan; SP-3/1 Fav
1997-WINNER-MAKE A STAND 6-12-00 Owner-Peter Deal; Trainer-Martin Pipe; Jockey-Tony McCoy; SP-7/1
1996-WINNER-COLLIER BAY 6-12-00 Owner-Wally Sturt; Trainer-Jim Old; Jockey-Graham Bradley; SP-9/1
1995-WINNER-ALDERBROOK 6-12-00 Owner-Ernie Pick; Trainer-Kim Bailey; Jockey-Norman Williamson; SP-11/2
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