IF The Cap Fits finished with a flourish to successfully defend his crown in the Grade 2 Coral Hurdle at Ascot.
After landing this prize a year ago, Harry Fry’s charge went on to finish third in the Christmas Hurdle and second in the National Spirit Hurdle, before successfully stepping up to three miles in the Grade 1 Stayers Hurdle at Aintree in the spring.
The seven-year-old was a 3/1 shot on his seasonal reappearance in Berkshire, with the Nicky Henderson-trained Call Me Lord – in receipt of 6lbs – the 6/4 market leader.
Call Me Lord looked like delivering the goods for favourite backers in the straight, with Nico de Boinville cutting a confident figure in the saddle between the final two flights.
However, the further If The Cap Fits went, the better he looked, digging deep for Sean Bowen after the final flight to get up and beat Call Me Lord by half a length.
The disappointment of the race was Roksana. Dan Skelton’s mare was beaten just a head by If The Cap Fits at Aintree and had the benefit of a recent comeback run, but could only finish fifth of the six runners.
Fry said: “It was a good race and we knew it was the minimum trip for him, but I liked it in terms of giving him a month to come back for the Long Walk and we can go forward with confidence and look forward to the challenge. It won’t be easy, but we will give it a go. He is a three-miler.
“I’m delighted for (owners) Paul and Clare Rooney as they are patient with their horses. We could have gone to Wetherby at the start of the month, but it was only in the last week he has come to himself and that is credit to all the team at home.
“He has been for a few away days and he has needed those. As every day this week has passed, he has been getting sharper and sharper. He only does the bare minimum at home, but we don’t mind when he does that on a racecourse.
“It’s the third time we have won the race. It’s been a good race for us and I’m delighted. Our season hasn’t really got going, but we have tweaked a few things at home and hopefully this can be the kick start for better things.”