First Cheltenham ride a winning one for McKenna

Unowhatimeanharry and Liam McKenna storm clear up the Cheltenham hill Image reproduced with the kind permission of Cheltenham Racecourse

Unowhatimeanharry and Liam McKenna storm clear up the Cheltenham hill
Image reproduced with the kind permission of Cheltenham Racecourse

Unowhatimeanharry won the Celebrating 20 Years of JETS Open Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle by three lengths on his first run for Harry Fry. He was ridden by Liam McKenna, who was having his first experience of Cheltenham

Fry said: “We hoped on his form that he would go well. Obviously, he was a maiden over hurdles. He was a private buy in the summer and we did his wind and a few little bits and pieces hopefully to try to get his head in front.

“It’s the first time Liam has ever come to the track, let alone ridden here, so it’s fantastic for him. He’s given him a lovely ride and hasn’t panicked and he’s done it really nicely.

“Liam has ridden seven winners in Ireland. He joined us in August; he was based with his stepfather James Lambe and had a couple of hundred rides in Ireland. Dave Roberts rang up in the summer and said he had a young lad looking for a conditional jockey’s position and we were delighted to welcome him as part of the team.

“He rode a winner last week in Market Rasen – I think he’s had four rides for us so far and has had two winners and a second and a third.

“He didn’t panic – the horse was travelling very well and it’s very easy in those circumstances to kick on. He’d never ridden the track before and Noel [Fehily] has been a big help to him. I’m delighted for him.”

Discussing future plans for the horse, Fry said: “There are a couple of races at the Hennessy meeting – the Pertemps qualifier and a novice 0-125 handicap hurdle which he’d get into off [a mark of] 123, so if he’s well we’ll look to try to run him at Newbury. He had solid form in the book last year without winning, so hopefully now he’s got his head in front he’ll keep progressing.”

Liam McKenna has always dreamed of winning a race at Cheltenham and he didn’t have to wait long it, after Unowhatimeanharry provided the young jockey his first win from his first ride at the track in the Celebrating 20 Years of JETS Open Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle.

McKenna moved to trainer Harry Fry three months ago and this was only his fourth ride for the trainer, having already ridden a winner, a second and a third.

McKenna said: “He was always going well, travelled brilliantly and jumped perfect. I always felt I had plenty of horse. I just hope the handicapper doesn’t get him! It’s amazing, you always dream of a winner at Cheltenham.

“My family is in racing and I worked for trainer Ian Ferguson last season who was a big, big help. I moved, with the help of Dave Roberts (agent), to Harry (Fry) about three months ago. It’s been brilliant.”

Jockey Will Featherstone was happy enough with the performance of Shadarpour, who finished the three length runner-up behind Unowhatimeanharry in the Celebrating 20 Years Of JETS Open Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle.

He stayed on well up the hill under Featherstone and the young rider was delighted with the attitude that Shadarpour showed in difficult conditions.

“He’s enjoyed every minute of it,” said Featherstone.

“I don’t think we were ever going to beat the winner though. The more trouble he’s found, the more he’s enjoyed it. A big field like that suits him well. He likes a good gallop early on and plenty of horses to aim at. He was running on well at the end and jumped everything brilliantly whether he was long or short.

“It was always going to be tricky to pick up the winner on that sort of ground but he’s showed a good attitude.”

Ciaran Gethings was also happy with the run of Scoop The Pot, who finished a further two and quarter lengths back in third, and feels that the five-year-old will get better with more runs under his belt.

“He just kept galloping the whole way,” said Gethings.

“He’s still very inexperienced though – that’s only his fourth run. He’ll learn lot from that as he still ran a bit green in places. He’ll come on a lot of it. He got outpaced when the pace began to quicken but he’s stayed on really well.

“He’s a good horse though – one for the future.”


Bright future predicted for Ballyandy after bumper victory

Ballyandy (red colours) challenges betweer Waterlord (inside) and Potters Legend (orange silks) Image reproduced with the kind permission of Cheltenham racecourse

Ballyandy (red colours) challenges betweer Waterlord (inside) and Potters Legend (orange silks)
Image reproduced with the kind permission of Cheltenham racecourse


Trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies was delighted with the performance of Ballyandy who made it two from two in bumpers when running out the winner of the “High Sheriff Of Gloucestershire’s” Standard Open Bumper at Cheltenham this afternoon.

The four-year-old made a winning debut at Worcester last month and was always travelling powerfully for jockey Sam Twiston-Davies and the pair stayed on strongly to deny runner-up Potters Legend by a length at the line.

The horse had run in the trainer’s colours at Worcester and he sold Ballyandy to his current owners, the Options O Syndicate, following that race and they had an immediate return on their investment this afternoon.

“Imperial Commander won his bumper here at the October meeting so let’s hope he’s as good as him,” said Twiston-Davies.

“He seems very nice. He’s always shown a lot and we’ve always thought he’s a bit special. I sold him after his last run and the owners are obviously very happy!

“The big thing to decide is whether he stays in bumpers or goes hurdling. He’s only four so we’ll have to think about that.

“We’ll have a big discussion and work that out. It’d be a 50:50 call at the moment. Whatever we do, the future looks very bright.”

Sam Twiston-Davies was delighted to ride a winner for his trainer father Nigel in the final race of The Open 2015.

Ballyandy, came home a length in front of Potters Legend. The son of Kayf Tara is now unbeaten in two racecourse outings.

Sam Twiston-Davies said: “He’s still so full of himself that he just stood on my toe! He went round there really nicely. It was only his second run, and we’re pleased with how he’s gone and how he’s won.

“He’s a full-brother to Megastar [second in the 2011 Tolworth Hurdle at Sandown], and all the family have won bumpers first time out, which is something we felt, with his work at home, that he was well up to doing. It’s great to ride a winner for Nige.”

When asked whether the horse would stick to bumpers or go hurdling, Twiston-Davies replied: “It’s quite tricky – he’s four, and when you’ve got a horse of his ability you don’t want to rush anything. We might stick to bumpers this season.”

Reflecting on The Open 2015, he said: “I’ve hit the cross-bar a lot, although two winners is never bad for a meeting. I get frustrated – I kick off more than Paul [Nicholls] does, but at the end of the day it’s about the future with these horses.”

Lucy Wadham was delighted with Potters Legend’s second in the “High Street Of Gloucestershire’s” Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race.

Having only his second run of his career, Potters Legend ran well up the hill and was just denied by Ballyandy by a length.

Wadham said: “I’m absolutely thrilled with that, he stays very well; being by Midnight Legend they do stay well. I know they are all inexperienced horses but for only this second run I’m so pleased. He only had his first run two weeks ago, we couldn’t be happier with him.

“I think he’ll come on from the experience. Barry (Geraghty) said he stumbled quite badly at the top of the hill so it makes the performance even better. We are very excited.”

Aurillac won the bumper here last month and Rebecca Curtis is confident that the five-year-old has definitely improved since his last run, although only third this time.

Curtis said: “Yea I’m delighted with him – he’s just a big baby really. Although he won last time here, this is a lot better race and I think he’s improved.

“We will go straight over hurdles now and hopefully he will end up a decent novice hurdler.”