Harry Fry hopes he can counterbalance a blank at the Cheltenham Festival by hitting back at the Randox Health Grand National Festival at Aintree next month.
The Seaborough handler plans to send a strong team to the Merseyside track, spearheaded by exciting novice chaser Bags Groove, who will bid to gain his first Grade One success.
After claiming a second Grade Two win over fences with victory at Kempton last time out, the eight-year-old will be entered in both the Betway Mildmay Novices’ Chase and the Manifesto Novices’ Chase.
Fry said: “He will be entered in both the two-and-a-half-mile and three-mile-one novice chases. I’m sure La Bague Au Roi will be in both races and Topofthegame might go for the three-mile-one race. If they do, we might leave them to it.
“It wouldn’t matter which trip he went. I made the mistake of running him too soon after Huntingdon at Kempton on Boxing Day, but Kempton went nicely for him last time.”
A step up to an extended three miles could be on the cards for If The Cap Fits, with Fry considering an outing alongside stablemate Unowhatimeanharry in the Ryanair Stayers’ Hurdle.
He said: “We had him entered in the Kingwell, but then we couldn’t run him because of the flu vaccinations so we ran him just over a week later at Fontwell.
“On paper it didn’t look like he disgraced himself. He had to give weight away, but he was never really travelling. Maybe the track was a bit tight.
“I think it maybe is time to step him up in trip, but he will be entered in the two-and-a-half-mile race as well.
“We deliberately took Unowhatimeanharry of Cheltenham with a view to going to Aintree as a fresh horse.”
Fry expects Hell’s Kitchen to take a significant step forward from the Queen Mother Champion Chase when returning to two and a half miles in the JLT Chase, better known as the Melling Chase.
He said: “It was a really encouraging first run over two miles at that level. That run will put him right for Aintree and we would have taken fourth in the Champion Chase before the race. We were delighted and he will be all the better for it.
“It has been infuriating through January and February not being able to run him, but hopefully we can roll on to the Melling Chase now.”
One horse that will not be forming part of Fry’s team will be Listed-winning chaser American, who has been retired after pulling up in the Midlands National at Uttoxeter on Saturday.
Fry said: “American has been retired. He has just come to the end of the road.
“He was highly talented, but extremely fragile. He was a really good novice two seasons ago, but things have just caught up with him.”