Harry Fry feels Ballyoptic could give Unowhatimeanharry most to think about in the Sun Bets Stayers’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.
The Seaborough handler rates the seven-year-old as a live danger should their paths cross in the Grade One on March 16, despite the fact Ballyoptic has failed to beat the JP McManus-owned Unowhatimeanharry in their two meetings this season
Although easily brushed aside by last year’s Albert Bartlett winner on his return in a Grade Two at Newbury in November, the Nigel Twiston-Davies-trained Ballyoptic was still upsides the eight-year-old in last month’s Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot before falling at the final flight.
Fry said: “(The Willie Mullins-trained) Vroum Vroum Mag is called the super-sub. She would be a superstar if she was in anyone else’s yard as she is a talented mare, but I’ve only mentioned her as she won the three-mile hurdle at Leopardstown over Christmas.
“Of course you don’t know where she will turn up at Cheltenham, but you have to respect her enormously if she did run in the Stayers’ Hurdle.
“I think Ballyoptic should not be dismissed lightly at all. We beat him fair and square at Newbury, but he was running a very good race and would have been much closer to us if he had stayed up at the last at Ascot.
“Although Richard Johnson stopped short of saying he would have won, he clearly felt he was still in with a chance. He would be very interesting at the current prices.”
Fry confirmed Unowhatimeanharry remains on course to make his next start at Prestbury Park later this month for a shot at the galliardhomes.com Cleeve Hurdle.
He said: “Unowhatimeanharry is in good order and is working towards the Cleeve Hurdle at the end of the month. Everything is going to plan so far.
“He was all wrong at the weights at Newbury and did much more than I expected and hoped for on his first start.
“He was put up 16lb for that and then another two for winning at Ascot. He has gone up 44lb in just over 12 months. I couldn’t have expected that to happen in my wildest dreams.
“Hopefully it will continue, but it is only going to get more competitive and he will need to be at his very best.”