Cheltenham Festival Trials Day 2017: Cleeve Hurdle

The Festival Trials Day at Cheltenham took place on Saturday 28th January 2017.

Unowhatimeanharry (Harry Fry/Barry Geraghty, 10/11 Fav) justified favouritism in the £60,000 G2 Cleeve Hurdle to cement his position at the head of the market for the Sun Bets Stayers’ Hurdle at The Festival.

The JP McManus-owned nine-year-old was always travelling well and took up the running after the final flight to overhaul long-time leader Cole Harden (Warren Greatrex/Gavin Sheehan, 20/1), the 2015 Stayers’ Hurdle hero.

The winning distance was a length and three-quarters with the novice West Approach (Colin Tizzard/Ruby Walsh, 14/1) staying on well to take third, a further length and a half in arrears.

Harry Fry commented: “Unowhatimeanharry was giving weight to a lot of the field, certainly the principals in the run to the line. Barry looked very confident coming down the hill and I suppose the horse has done usual trick of thinking he has done enough when he hit the front.

“That is probably why he is on such a sequence – he keeps a bit in reserve. I am absolutely delighted and, all being well he is OK tomorrow, we can roll on to March.

“He is exactly the same at home. If you worked him with a 100 rated horse or a 140-plus rated horse, he would go a length up on them and stop. If he went out there and won by 20 lengths all the time, the gas would run out sooner or later. He does what he needs to and knows where the winning line is. If we can keep that pattern going, we will be happy.

“Barry was delighted with how he travelled on the ground today. He has won on good ground in the Albert Bartlett and it was pretty soft, tacky ground today so he is pretty versatile. Barry was enthusing about how well he went today so, if it’s on the slow side at The Festival, even better.

“No doubt there will be something in Ireland fancying their chances in the Stayers’ Hurdle and I know that Warren Greatrex is looking forward to a rematch with Cole Harden.

“It’s six and a half weeks away, it’s another day and anything can happen. We won’t rest on our laurels and hopefully we can get Unowhatimeanharry there in similar form and look forward to the day.”

Barry Geraghty added: “He has a lovely, laid-back attitude. He carried me really well through the race, got me there early enough and I would say he dossed a bit when he got to the front.

“Unowhatimeanharry keeps beating what you put in front of him and he keeps beating them by the same margin – two or three lengths. He only does as much as he has to. He is one of those types that probably slips under the radar a bit and might not get the recognition he deserves for that reason.

“Harry has done a brilliant job with him. His horses have been in great form all season and it is a brilliant set-up.”

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