HARRY Fry’s Winston C booked his place for the Imperial Cup in March with a fluent success at Sandown, despite carrying a seven-pound penalty.

Commenting on his official website, the Seaborough trainer explained the workload necessitated by the recent snowfall simply to get miles into his horses.

He said: “It was a pleasing end to a frustrating week with several race meetings abandoned and our yard and surrounding roads covered under a heavy blanket of snow after the blizzard arrived late on Thursday.

“Anthony Honeyball, Jack Barber and I took turns on the tractor harrowing our all-weather gallop through the night.

“So we were all able to work the horses on Friday and crucially our lorry managed to escape from Seaborough on Saturday morning with our two runners at Sandown.

Winston C justified all the hard work by winning the opening novice hurdle by one-and-three-quarter lengths from the Beaufort West.

He travelled well just off the pace, jumping slickly, led at the final flight and kept on strongly on the final hill.

He was racing off a mark of 126 on Saturday and will probably end up in the low 130s once the handicapper has his say.

That should ensure that he gets into the Imperial Cup which has been the plan since he joined us late last summer.

Meanwhile, Fry’s mount The Last Samuri will run in Saturday’s Betfair Denman Chase at Newbury among a high-class field.

Fry’s charge will be joined by fellow Dorset trainer Colin Tizzard’s Native River, the reigning Cheltenham Gold Cup champion.

Commenting on River, Tizzard said: “At Kempton he jumped out to the left. That’s twice he has been there, and he hasn’t been at ease.

“He stayed on well at Kempton – that’s all we can take out of the race. I think he is almost unbeaten at Newbury, so this was always going to be our prep race.

“I think the King George winner is going there as well. But this is our prep race for the Gold Cup.

“I think the course at Newbury will suit him better. He is a strong stayer and he has very good form round Newbury. We will see what the entries are like. If they have the forecast rain and it’s good to soft, he’ll be there.”

King George winner Clan Des Obeaux will also take to the course.