A good scouting network is vital to the success of any team in sport, making sure you are aware of individuals who are operating under the radar but ready to burst through.
In Harry Fry and Dan Skelton the Coral Champions Club has two trainers that have extensive contacts and connections to make use of and the Club’s purchase of Innocent Girl is testament to that fact.
Having enjoyed a successful time of things with its first two jumps horses Bon Chic and Template, the Coral Champions Club wanted to add further strength to the string and Innocent Girl was found, tracked and then purchased for the Club by Fry, who has shown himself to be a shrewd operator in unearthing hidden talent with the likes of Unowhatimeanharry and others.
He says: “Innocent Girl had been point-to-pointing for my neighbour Jack Barber, who’s a very good point-to-point trainer, and she’s won two of her four starts for him.
“Jack mentioned early on in the season when she was running well that she would potentially be on the market if she started to produce improved form in points. We’ve watched her throughout the season as a result and luckily Coral Champions Club were keen to acquire a horse with plenty of scope to improve so we did the deal and I’m delighted.”
The excitement in Fry’s voice is tangible. For a trainer who is skilled in the placement and steady improvement of horses, coming across an individual such as Innocent Girl offers great opportunities.
Innocent Girl, a seven-year-old mare by King’s Theatre, the sire of Cue Card among others, has raced under rules before. She had been a reasonably expensive purchase by previous trainer Lucinda Russell, but lacked the maturity and readiness to excel over jumps.
All horses progress at different speeds depending on their breeding, physical make-up and the way they are trained. That is why some horses are able to run at their best in the early months of their two-year-old year, while others can be approaching double digits in age before they finally start to fulfil their potential.
That seems to be the case with Innocent Girl. A spell running in point-to-points with Jack Barber and the chance to mature have been beneficial to her prospects once she returns to racing under rules for the Coral Champions Club. Furthermore, when she returns to the course, she will be going there having been rated on her performances before she went pointing.
Harry says: “Jack had picked her up at the Doncaster sales after she had run a few times for another trainer and not shown a great deal of form. She only has a low handicap rating as a result over hurdles and fences but she’s improved a great deal since being switched to points.
“We thought given that and the rating she had she was the sort of horse we’d be interested in taking on and getting going with. I think she’ll do a job under rules for sure and I’m excited about the coming months with her.”
After a productive spring in points, Innocent Girl enjoyed a good summer break before coming into training with Fry, and the signs are encouraging for her to be able to make up into a useful performer.
Harry says. “The idea would be to get her on to the track in early October. She’s been training away nicely and pleasing me in what she’s done so far. It has been a promising start to things.
“She’s a good-sized mare with a lot of scope for going over fences if that’s a route we opt to go down. She’s a novice over both hurdles and fences so we can look at those races, and of course there are handicaps and mares’ only races for her as well so we have many options. Off her mark I’d be disappointed if we couldn’t win a few races with her.”