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Mendip Express expected to miss out on Cheltenham Festival

Harry Fry fears he will lose the race against time to get Mendip Express back in peak condition for a crack at the National Hunt Chase at this year's Cheltenham Festival following his heavy defeat at Newbury.

The Dorset handler went for the option of getting one more run into his promising charge before Prestbury Park and the move backfired as he was beaten out of sight by Smad Place and Sam Winner in testing conditions.

Fry has already ruled out reopposing either of that duo in the RSA Chase at Cheltenham and feels tackling the 4m National Hunt Chase would also be a tall order after such a hard work-out at the Berkshire track.

"Obviously he was put in his place by two very good horses that day," admitted Fry. "The plan had been the National Hunt Chase over four miles and he's still in that but he did have a hard time of it in the conditions at Newbury, so we've had to give him a chance to get over that run and the suspicion is that Cheltenham will come just a little soon after that run.

"He was in the RSA but he's been taken out of that, so we'll see how he is for the next 10 days. It's unlikely he'll be going to the festival this year, but there are still some good races to go for, including possibly at Aintree."

Mendip Express had previously built up a big reputation thanks to the manner of three novice chase wins at Wetherby, Bangor and Cheltenham, with leading amateur rider Will Biddick in the saddle and qualified to stay on board for the National Hunt Chase.

The powerfully-built eight-year-old romped home by 12 lengths on his debut over fences, before beating a useful Rebecca Curtis inmate in Bob Ford and then accounting for the vastly experienced Alfie Spinner on his handicap bow at Prestbury Park.

Hopes had been high of another bold showing at the Festival but it may now be a case of putting such lofty ambitions on hold for the future. 


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Mendip Express expected to miss out on Cheltenham Festival

Harry Fry fears he will lose the race against time to get Mendip Express back in peak condition for a crack at the National Hunt Chase at this year's Cheltenham Festival following his heavy defeat at Newbury.

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