Hot Fry aiming to crack Tolworth

Harry Fry bids to continue his flying start to the year as Jolly’s Cracked It shoots for Grade One glory in Saturday’s 32Red Tolworth Hurdle at Sandown today.

Having enjoyed a fruitful Christmas period, the Seaborough handler got 2015 off to a flyer as stable star Rock On Ruby starred in a double at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day, adding to a winner at Exeter on the same afternoon.

Jolly’s Cracked It earned his step up to the highest level by winning successive races at Ascot in November and Fry expects the likely soft conditions to bring out the best in his youngster.

While only four go to post they include Nicky Henderson’s hugely impressive to date L’Ami Serge and Dan Skelton’s Shelford, fourth in the Ladbroke last time out having won his first two races of the campaign. Fry said: “It looks a competitive race but it should be for a Grade One.

“Nicky Henderson’s L’Ami Serge has been hugely impressive in his two starts over here to date. He’s the pick of the horses on form. He’s the one we all have to beat.

“This has been the plan for our fellow, though, since he won the last time at Ascot and nothing has happened to make us change our mind.

“The more rain the better for him, he doesn’t need it but we know that he acts in it very well and it might not suit some of the others.

“He just seems to cope with it better than most.”

L'Ami Serge has certainly looked the part since arriving from France, making an impressive debut for Nicky Henderson in the Gerry Feilden at Newbury before sauntering clear in the Supreme Trial at Ascot.

Big-race jockey Barry Geraghty is anticipating another bold show.

He said: “He won well last time and was good in the Gerry Feilden the time before as well, so he deserves his place in the field.

“It’s cut up to just the four runners and it’s an interesting race. He’s in good form and soft ground doesn’t seem to bother him.”

Shelford has already enjoyed a profitable campaign, winning twice at Chepstow, including the Silver Trophy, before finishing a creditable fourth at Ascot last month.

Skelton said: “It’s a tidy little race. We have 10lb to find with L’Ami Serge and Harry’s horse is two from two.

“We’re not underestimating the opposition, but our horse has good recent handicap form and is in good form going into the race.

“I’m glad it’s been raining and we go there with a chance without being favourite.”

A field of just four runners is completed by Zoe Davison’s big outsider Thelordbewithyou, an 11-year-old who has not run since March 2013.

Meanwhile Oliver Sherwood has warned Mischievous Milly is likely to improve for the run as she returns from almost a year on the sidelines in Saturday’s 32Red.com Mares’ Hurdle, also at Sandown.

The seven-year-old was being lined up to run in the OLBG Mares’ Hurdle at last season’s Cheltenham Festival after being narrowly denied by the Willie Mullins-trained Glens Melody at Warwick in January and February of last year.

Injury intervened, however, and she makes her first start since this weekend. Glens Melody subsequently made Quevega pull out all the stops at the Festival.

Sherwood said: “We had a hiccup before the Cheltenham Festival, hence why she missed Cheltenham and she hasn’t run since.

“We haven’t missed a day with her since she came back in, but she did come in late and she will definitely improve for the run, even if she wins.

“She’s well in at the weights and I’m just looking forward to getting her back on track and then we can make a plan, which will hopefully include the David Nicholson (OLBG Mares’ Hurdle).”

The most obvious threat to Mischievous Milly is John Quinn’s smart mare Aurore D’Estruval, who made a winning seasonal debut at Wetherby before filling the runner-up spot behind Irving in the Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle.

Quinn also has one eye on Prestbury Park in March.

He said: “The plan for the rest of the season is to stick to the mares’ races. There’s one at Doncaster at the end of the month but we’ll just take it one race at a time with her and see how we go.”

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