I’ve got a bit of a thing about Unowhatimeanharry. It goes back to when he won the Albert Bartlett at Cheltenham in 2016. Until yesterday, he had only lost once since being with Harry Fry. Whilst that one blip was the big one- the Stayers’ Hurdle at this year’s Festival- he quickly bounced back at Aintree and Punchestown.
What I’ve never understood is why the media have such a downer on him. The Racing Post’s David Jennings described him as a fraud, which seems a strange noun to attach to a horse. He’s been criticised for only doing enough to win, which I’ve always found makes for an exciting finish. When the critics are then faced with the reality of his success, the response is that there aren’t any good staying hurdlers to compete against , but you can do no more than dominate your division.
The Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury yesterday, which is as good an early trial for the Stayers’ Hurdle as you will find, was on paper a straight race between harry and Thistlecrack. What no one factored in was that 40/1 shot Beer Goggles, who had never run in such illustrious company, would boss the race from start to finish and was more than a worthy winner. The pundits were as quick to praise the run as they were to highlight how they were proved right about harry’s limitations. There was very little: “What on earth happened to Thistlecrack?” who finished a distant fifth.
I didn’t resent Beer Goggles his victory one bit: I love an outsider and he is from a stables local to me. Those I know who work for Rich Woollacott or own horses he trains, speak highly of him as a trainer and describe him as a good chap.
I also have to accept that at the age of nine, harry might be getting to the stage where the best will soon be behind him. However, the more negative comments he attracts, the more loyal I feel and determined to defend him.