Rock On Ruby enters Arkle picture after Plumpton stroll
Former Champion Hurdle hero Rock On Ruby looks a live candidate for this season's Arkle after making a smooth debut over fences at Plumpton.
Harry Fry's stable star went off a prohibitive 1/10 favourite against two moderate rivals in the Winter Gale Novices' Chase and despite one blunder, the eight-year-old had little difficulty in justifying his short odds.
The 2012 Cheltenham winner's task was made even easier when one of those departed at the third fence, and jockey Noel Fehily looked confident throughout.
Jumping well for the most part, Rock On Ruby cantered alongside Lindsay's Dream for most of the journey and while he belted the fourth from home, he never looked like coming to grief.
The eventual winning margin was four lengths and that margin could have been extended if Fehily had wished, but the priority was a clear round and Fry was clearly pleased.
"My immediate reaction is relief," he said. "We've got away with it on the ground today. We know he's better on better ground.
"We've made a mistake, but apart from that, he has jumped well, he was quick from A to B, so you've got to be pleased. He's tough and he'll always try -- that's one characteristic he'll never lose.
"There is a similar race here on January 5, so we could come back for that before the Lightning at Doncaster (January 25). Hopefully we'll get him through to March and then we have options like the Jewson as well as the Arkle."
Fehily added: "I'm pretty happy, the ground was way too soft for him, but he popped around and did what he had to do. He was quite clever at a few, all I had to do was get him around.
"When he made the mistake he was too busy watching the loose horse, but he was quite clever as he never looked in trouble."
The general consensus of the bookmakers was to leave Rock On Ruby unchanged around the 16/1 mark for the Arkle in March.
Gary Moore continued his good recent form with a double at his local track, with sons Jamie and Josh sharing riding honours.
Vikekhal (14/1) just held on by a short head in the novices' hurdle from the fast-finishing Minority Interest, while Reblis came home 10 lengths clear under Josh in the staying handicap chase.