Trainer Harry Fry has confirmed on Racing TV on Friday that Metier will run in the Cheltenham Festival’s traditional curtain-raiser, the Grade One Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle.
Formerly trained on the Flat in Ireland by Andrew Slattery, the five-year-old has won his first three starts for new connections since being purchased for 55,000gns. The Mastercraftsman gelding took the step up to top-level company in his stride last time out when winning the Tolworth Hurdle by 12 lengths at Sandown Park in January.
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Dorset handler Fry was debating whether to take in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle or step up in trip for the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle. However, connections feel a stiff two miles round Cheltenham will play to Metier’s strengths.
Harry Fry provides an update on Metier and If The Cap Fits
Revealing the decision exclusively on Racing TV, Fry said: “We’re 99% sure that Metier will run in the Supreme. His form has been over two miles, he’s off the Flat and two miles and five furlongs is a big step up in trip.
“It will be interesting to see what the ground is like with these drying conditions, but you’re not going to get any quicker than good to soft on the opening day of the meeting, so I think we’re pretty set that the Supreme is the right race for him.”
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Metier was a leading player for the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury. However, with the meeting postponed by a week due to a frozen track, connections decided to bypass the competitive handicap and go straight to Cheltenham.
“Metier would have had a lot of weight at Newbury and as a Grade One winner already, Cheltenham was the focus,' said Fry.
Although we were happy to have a crack at the Betfair Hurdle en route to Cheltenham, we didn’t want it to be a stumbling block and with only three weeks between the rescheduled Betfair Hurdle and Cheltenham, we just felt we would keep our powder dry and go there all guns blazing.”
If The Cap Fits has been a stable star for Fry over the years and a return to hurdles could be possible in the Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle. The nine-year-old also has an entry in the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase, but connections are leaning towards a tilt over hurdles.
Discussing his thoughts, Fry said: “If The Cap Fits has two entries and I think although nothing is set in stone, we are leaning towards going back over hurdles. We will see as we have three weeks to make up our minds, but I think we’re beginning to lean back to switching him back to hurdles.
“He is a proven Grade One, 160-plus rated performer over hurdles. He hasn’t run disgracefully over fences, but he hasn’t hit the same heights as he did over hurdles and those novice chases at the Cheltenham Festival do look particularly strong.
“His strongest form is over hurdles, so that is where we might head with him.”