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Harry Fry happy with JLT hope Vukovar ahead of Cheltenham Festival

Trainer Harry Fry insists high-profile French import Vukovar will travel to the 2014 Cheltenham Festival fit, fresh and fancied to put in a bold showing in the JLT Novices' Chase over two and a half miles.

The five-year-old had some smart form over hurdles on his CV before coming across to the UK, notably a smooth defeat of Dell' Arca off level weights at Auteuil, when an odds-on favourite.

That runner-up was subsequently sold for 280,000 euros and has since franked the form by landing the Greatwood Hurdle at Cheltenham and finishing second of 20 to Splash Of Ginge in the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury.

Vukovar, meanwhile, has been brought along steadily by Fry; finishing second to Mr Mole in a novice chase at Warwick before going one better in grand fashion over a longer trip at Newbury, when making all and drawing clear to thrash Open Hearted by an easy 21 lengths, with Noel Fehily in the saddle.

"The JLT is the plan as we see him much more as a stayer in the making," Fry told At The Races. "We were very pleased to be asked to train the horse and when you look at his form in France we could see he had some serious stuff in the book.

"He just got caught after the last at Warwick on his first run for us over a bare minimum two miles and then did it nicely at Newbury next time out. He's a big horse, he's only a five-year-old, he's only going to keep getting better with time, so that's why we've looked after him since then and decided to go straight to Cheltenham.

"As the French do, he's done plenty of jumping before he came to us, his schooling has always been good and Noel is happy with what he's done on the track, so we thought he'd benefit for a bit of time off rather than have too many races."

This season's JLT Novices' Chase does look a competitive affair, with Felix Yonger representing the powerful Willie Mullins yard, while Paul Nicholls is sweet on Wonderful Charm's chances, Nicky Henderson has Oscar Whisky and Jonjo O'Neill will saddle Taquin Du Seuil.

However, Vukovar will be regarded by many as a value bet to follow in the footsteps of past winners Noble Prince, Sir Des Champs and Benefficient if getting the run of the race.


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Harry Fry happy with JLT hope Vukovar ahead of Cheltenham Festival

Trainer Harry Fry insists high-profile French import Vukovar will travel to the 2014 Cheltenham Festival fit, fresh and fancied to put in a bold showing in the JLT Novices' Chase over two and a half miles.

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