Cheltenham Festival preview – Rock on Ruby, Fry’s delight

Cheltenham Festival preview – Rock on Ruby, Fry’s delight
Harry and Ciara Fry with Rock on Ruby

Harry and Ciara Fry with Rock on Ruby

Harry Fry looks less like a trainer of thoroughbreds than some. Pass him in the street and you would be forgiven for guessing that he is a junior doctor. Or a budding young lawyer.

Not yet 30, Fry learned the art of training horses at a young age, and from the very best.

He confirms that his Rock on Ruby will race in the World Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.

“When he pushed The New One to a head it was a no-brainer – we’d stick to what he was good at. He ran well back over the minimum in the Elite and then won the Relkeel over two and a half in December and went back on New Year’s Day and won again.

“On the back of those two runs, he has such a good record at the Festival and with no two-and-a-half-mile race at the Festival, there is only really one race to go for and that is the World Hurdle over three miles.

“It is another big ask but one we’re looking forward to. How can you sit at home with a horse with his record when everyone else is getting on with it. The two races he has won this year were actually won by More Of That and Annie Power who fought out the World Hurdle last year.

“More Of That never ran again after the Relkeel and the year Ruby won the Champion Hurdle, his last run was the Christmas Hurdle so he likes to go there fresh.”

Fresh faced Fry has held his training licence for less than three years but has enjoyed some memorable triumphs in that time. It’s far removed from the time when, aged 19 and just four days into a three year course of International and Equine Business Management, he had a change of heart and mind. He quit University on the Thursday and rang Paul Nicholls. Three days later he had moved into lodgings at Manor House Farm stables in Ditcheat. Nicholls took him in and hired him as a pupil assistant trainer under the care of Dan Skelton.

What he learned from Nicholls, Skelton and the point-to-point trainer Richard Barber paid dividends.

Fry says: “Running my own business brought very different responsibilities. Paul Barber (Richard’s brother, and landlord at Ditcheat) was always telling me the key to any business was to ‘pay and be paid’ and unless that’s working you can’t train properly.”

The business is run by Fry and his wife Ciara. She joined the stable as head groom and rides out and looks after Rock on Ruby.

Fry says of his wife: “Ciara was in love with Rock on Ruby long before she fell for me. There’s no question that without Ciara the stable wouldn’t have achieved what it has.

“I don’t regard training as a job, more a way of life and a life I’m incredibly lucky to be living.”

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