Unowhatimeanharry scores at Ascot on first start for JP McManus

Barry Geraghty lands Grade One prize at Ascot

Unowhatimeanharry ridden by Barry Geraghty (right) clears the last flight in company with Ballyoptic ridden by Richard Johnson before going on to win The JLT Long Walk Hurdle Race  at Ascot. Photograph:   Julian Herbert/PA Wire

Unowhatimeanharry ridden by Barry Geraghty (right) clears the last flight in company with Ballyoptic ridden by Richard Johnson before going on to win The JLT Long Walk Hurdle Race at Ascot. Photograph: Julian Herbert/PA Wire

 

Unowhatimeanharry extended his winning sequence to seven with a wide-margin success in the JLT Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot.

Harry Fry’s eight-year-old completed a five-timer in the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle at last season’s Cheltenham Festival and appeared better than ever in Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury on his first start in the colours of JP McManus.

Stepped back up to Grade One level, Unowhatimeanharry was the 6-5 favourite in the hands of Barry Geraghty, who was content to bide his time while Newbury runner-up Ballyoptic adopted more positive tactics in an attempt to reverse the form.

Ballyoptic was pursued for much of the three-mile journey by Reve De Sivola, who won this prize three times in succession between 2012 and 2014, but the latter was back-pedalling before the home turn.

West Approach, a half-brother to last year’s Long Walk winner Thistlecrack, moved smoothly into contention, but all the while Unowhatimeanharry was making headway on the leaders.

West Approach began to weaken in the straight and Unowhatimeanharry looked to be getting the better of Ballyoptic when he crashed out at the final flight.

His exit gave the hot favourite breathing space and he kept up the gallop to score by four and a half lengths from Lil Rockerfeller, with Un Temps Pour Tout a distant third.

Geraghty said: “He did it well. He had to work harder here than he did the last day.

“He’s very good, but he only does as much as he has to. He probably has a little more class than he lets on.”

Fry said: “We’re relying on the jockey’s report (because of the fog), but Barry said it was a proper Grade One test and he’s had to work hard.

“We’ll have a chat to Barry and the team and see where we go, but the races are sort of there – the Cleeve Hurdle (at Cheltenham) and hopefully the big day (World Hurdle) in March.

“He’s come through it and the dream goes on. If he keeps doing that we’ll be happy.

“We will let him come out of this, speak to the owner and the team and see what they want to do.

“We will enjoy this first – it is a Grade One on its own right and a memorable day, for sure.

“It means a lot. It is extraordinary. You could not ever hope for this or predicted it, but that’s what brilliant about National Hunt racing.

“Sometimes these horses come along and they just keep finding. He is just progressing unbelievably and hopefully long may it continue.”

Trainer Neil King said of runner-up Lil Rockerfeller: “It was a career-best for the horse and he’s run a fabulous race there.

“We were just a little bit too far back and he was making his ground up to Mr McManus’s horse all the way to the line.

“I am very proud of him. Since his juvenile days we have said that three miles would be the making of him and it’s rewarding.

“He would have a serious chance in the World Hurdle. I really do think so. I really, really do.”

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.