Fry hoping American can execute long-range plan and prove Newbury beauty
Harry Fry is hoping a long-term plan with the fragile but highly talented American can be executed successfully in Saturday’s £250,000 Ladbrokes Trophy, for which bookmakers have slashed the odds about Vyta Du Roc and A Genie In Abottle.
A progressive second-season chaser is widely considered to be ideal for the race formerly known as the Hennessy Gold Cup, and the seven-year-old American is as short as 5-1 in ante-post betting for the 3m2f Berkshire showpiece.
The Nicky Henderson-trained Vyta Du Roc and Irish raider A Genie In Abottle moved significantly closer to the head of the market themselves after their odds were cut across the board.
American, unbeaten in three soft-ground races during his novice campaign last term, culminating in an impressive eight-length success over Rock The Kasbah at Uttoxeter in March, has been aimed at this prestigious event ever since.
“We’ve made no secret that this race has always been the plan,” said Fry. “It’s no easy task first time out but we’ve been very happy with him at home.
“He’s fragile, but we’ve given him away days at Wincanton and Newbury recently, and he’s in good form. We were delighted with everything he did last season, but he’ll have to improve again on that form to win at Newbury.”
Fry is surprised American, who will be partnered by his regular rider Noel Fehily, is such a short price for what is always one of the most competitive staying handicap chases in the calendar.
“He does seem very short considering he hasn’t run yet this season,” the trainer said. “Yes, I am surprised at his price, but I'm not a bookmaker. He does have a good profile for the race. Maybe that’s why he's the price he is.”
American, who has won four of his six races under rules, is notoriously fragile, and future plans – he is entered in the Coral Welsh Grand National next month and is 33-1 with several firms for the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup – will not be considered until after Newbury.
“We’ve said all along that Newbury is the plan,” Fry said. “We’ll build the rest of his season around how Saturday goes. That’s always been his focus.”
Two major market moves developed on Tuesday, with both A Genie In Abottle and Vyta Du Roc halving in price with bet365.
The firm cut A Genie In Abottle to 8-1 (from 16) and Vyta Du Roc to 10-1 (from 20). Ladbrokes also shortened Vyta Du Roc to 10-1 (from 16).
Noel Meade’s A Genie In Abottle, winner of his two races this season at Galway and Wexford, signed off his 2016-17 campaign with a Punchestown third to Disko in the Grade 1 Growise Champion Novice Chase and there is little doubt he remains open to improvement over staying trips. It appears punters are focusing on the popular second-season chaser angle again.
Vyta Du Roc, trained locally by Henderson, finished sixth to Native River in the race 12 months ago off a BHA rating of 143. He will compete off a 3lb lower mark on Saturday.
Thistlecrack, who is due to make his long-awaited return to action following a tendon injury in the Ladbrokes Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury on Friday, is evens with the sponsor.
Newbury clerk of the course Richard Osgood left the ground unchanged after walking the track on Tuesday afternoon.
“It’s soft, good to soft in places on the hurdles course and good to soft, soft in places on the chase track,” Osgood said.
“The forecast for the rest of the week is mainly dry. Temperatures are likely to drop a bit, but the way I'm reading it they won’t be drastically low.
“We expect the coldest night to be Wednesday into Thursday and, as a precaution, we’ve covered all the takeoffs to landings.”