Rubi can dazzle rivals
Rubi Light will complete his preparations for the Cheltenham Festival when he bids for a second successive triumph in the Red Mills Chase at Gowran Park today.
While slightly disappointing when held by Synchronised in the Lexus Chase, Robbie Hennessy's smart seven-year-old nonetheless fared best of the home team on that occasion, and he remains a horse of some potential.
A top-priced 15/2 for next month's Ryanair Chase, in which he went on to finish a fine third last year, Rubi Light gained a deserved first Grade One success over this two-and-a-half-mile trip in the John Durkan prior to Leopardstown. He faces just four rivals in today's €40,000 Grade Two, with Apt Approach the only one that poses any sort of a threat.
Indeed, if you go via their respective recent encounters with Roberto Goldback, Willie Mullins' runner -- more than 14 lengths to the good over that one at Thurles last time -- arguably boasts the better form line.
Nonetheless, Rubi Light thrashed Roberto Goldback in his optimum conditions here 12 months ago, and a similar performance can be expected under Andrew Lynch again. In the equivalent Grade Two hurdle, Lynch rides Henry de Bromhead's unexposed Darwins Fox.
Second to Abou Ben on its first run for a year at Fairyhouse two weeks ago, last year's Naas Listed winner has scope to progress, but it's difficult to oppose Zaidpour in this two-miler.
Mullins' six-year-old is unbeaten in three over two-and-a-half and three miles this term, latterly accounting for Voler La Vedette over the longer distance here in January.
He has built on what was a decent novice campaign over flights, and reverts to two miles now for the first time since finishing seventh to Al Ferof in the 2011 Supreme Novices' Hurdle.
While he may ideally need further, none of his five rivals would have been capable of that kind of effort, and the ground will aid his cause.
Mullins and Paul Townend also get the nod with Shamar in the Shantou at Burgage Stud Maiden Hurdle, while Lynch's book of five rides might yield a treble in total.
Rubi Light's progressive stablemate Table Mountain can go one better for the Ashbourne native than when second at Fairyhouse last month in the handicap hurdle, with Jim Dreaper's Harpsy Cord napped to take the Follow Gowran On Facebook Beginners' Chase.
Terence O'Brien's useful hurdler Ballyadam Brook returns from a lay-off to make his chasing debut in this, while Ballyburke should come on for his recent second at Clonmel.
However, Harpsy Cord, third to Rathlin at Fairyhouse in January before chasing home Soll at Down Royal earlier this month, looks best-placed to break his fencing duck under Lynch.