Harry Fry’s Ask Me Early fits the weight statistics perfectly ahead of Saturday’s Midlands National… with only one winner in 10 years carrying more than 11st to victory in the near five mile slog

  • Gelding Ask Me Early weighs in at just 10st 13lbs ahead of Saturday’s meeting 
  • Iron Bridge and Mr Incredible may struggle as they are both heavier than 11 stone
  • Don’t expect many finishers in a race that has been ripe for surprise results 

Some pretty serious questions will be posed in the Midlands National on Saturday but trainer Harry Fry could have the answer with ASK ME EARLY (Uttoxeter, 3.00).

Cheltenham has looked hard going this week but it will probably turn out to be a cake walk compared to this four-and- a-quarter-mile slog on heavy ground. Don’t expect many finishers in a race that has been ripe for surprise results.

Only two favourites have won in the last 10 years and only one winner carried more than 11st to victory.

That makes it look a tricky task for Jonjo O’Neill’s Welsh Grand National runner-up Iron Bridge (11st 4lb) and especially difficult for the Willie Mullins trained Mr Incredible, who shoulders top weight of 12st.

Ask Me Early fits the weight statistics in that he carries 10st 13lb. He also looks fairly handicapped after bouncing back to form with a win when fitted with cheekpieces for the first time at Exeter last month.

Harry Fry's Ask Me Early is showing positive signs ahead of Saturday's Midlands National

Harry Fry’s Ask Me Early is showing positive signs ahead of Saturday’s Midlands National

Now 10, the grey gelding has not hit the heights that had looked likely early in his career. He suffered a heavy fall when schooling in training that took a long time to get over and he has been beset with niggling issues.

But, going into the Exeter race, he had been showing positive signals. He is getting long in the tooth but on his old form he looks pretty well handicapped. His biggest threat might be Fergal O’Brien’s Autonomous Cloud. He was strongly fancied for the Welsh National in December and was sent off the 9-2 joint favourite. But he broke a blood vessel and was pulled up. He has been given time to get over those exertions.

The runner which looks guaranteed to get in the shake-up is the Emma Lavelle-trained My Silver Lining. She has been one of the success stories of the season with jockey James Best.

She has not finished out of the first two in five starts, winning the Classic Handicap Chase at Warwick in January and finishing second to Yeah Man in last month’s Grand National Trial Chase at Haydock.

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