Rubi ruled out of Ascot clash with Sprinter
Robbie Hennessy has opted to take stable star Rubi Light out of the Victor Chandler Chase at Ascot on Saturday.
The eight-year-old, which was a fine second to Sizing Europe in the Dial-A-Bet Chase at Leopardstown over the Christmas period, has suffered a setback in training.
"Unfortunately he's on the easy list for a couple of days as he's got a stone bruise, so he can't go to Ascot or for the Kinloch Brae Chase at Thurles on Thursday," Hennessy said. "It's disappointing as we probably would have travelled to Ascot. We'd have enjoyed the trip over and there is good prize money for second, but it wasn't to be.
"It's only a minor thing and he should be back riding out by Thursday, but he'll miss some crucial work which means he can't run this week.
"The plan now is to go for the Red Mills Chase at Gowran in February. He's won that race for the last two years so we'll go back there."
With Rubi Light out, Sprinter Sacre, the most exciting chaser in training, will face a maximum of eight rivals in the big race at Ascot. The sponsors make Nicky Henderson's gelding a 1/6 shot.
Among the possible competition is Somersby, which beat subsequent Champion Chaser Finian's Rainbow in the race last year, and Sanctuaire, which was rated only a few pounds behind Sprinter Sacre until he was trounced by him in the Tingle Creek in December. The others, on official ratings at any rate, are in a much lower division.
Henderson said yesterday that his stable star would run regardless of the ground.
"It's a very valuable race," said Henderson. "He runs. Everything has gone to plan since the Tingle Creek and Nico de Boinville, who rides him out every day, is very happy with him.
"There's nowhere else to go and there's plenty of time to get over it if he has a hard race. It's not the plan to have another run after this before Cheltenham and we have Simonsig for the Game Spirit."
Ascot officials are keeping their fingers crossed that the meeting will go ahead. They put down frost covers last Saturday and, after some wet snow yesterday, the forecast is for minus 5C tomorrow and Thursday night, which is near the limit of what the covers can cope with.
Sprinter Sacre has already been called jump racing's equivalent of Frankel, which will be the centre of attention when the World Thoroughbred Rankings for the 2012 Flat season will be announced in London today.
This event usually takes place in a windowless boardroom within 75 High Holborn but the British Horseracing Authority have taken the trouble this year to book the somewhat plusher surrounds of the Soho Hotel, lined up Lord Grimthorpe, Khalid Abdulla's racing manager, to be there and asked whether journalists will be accompanied by a television crew.
Why all the fuss? Well it does not take a genius to work out that the red carpet treatment is for an announcement that Frankel will officially become the best horse since records began.
That may involve not only tinkering with the rating of 140 he ended last season with, but also some creative accounting with the ratings of a few previous 'greats'.
Yesterday, Timeform – since it was taken over by Betfair a more commercial business than ever – got in a pre-emptive strike by announcing that their rating of 147 for Frankel made him the highest-rated horse in that organisation's 60-plus year history. Normally that would have been a closely guarded secret until the publication in March of their 'Racehorses of 2012'.
Meanwhile, Charles Byrnes has confirmed his dual Cheltenham Festival hero Weapon's Amnesty has been retired from racing after suffering another injury.
Winner of the Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle at the 2009 Festival, the Gigginstown House Stud-owned chestnut returned to Prestbury Park 12 months later to run out a hugely impressive winner of the RSA Chase, beating the Nicky Henderson-trained pair of Burton Port and Long Run.
However, he then spent over two and a half years on the sidelines with injury and when he did eventually return to competitive action in last month's Christmas Hurdle at Leopardstown, he was pulled up. He has since suffered a further setback, prompting connections to retire him.
Colm Murphy has called time on the racing life of Voler La Vedette, with the distinguished mare now bound for a breeding career.
A winner of 13 of her 27 starts, 10 of which were at Listed or Stakes level including the Grade One Hatton's Grace Hurdle and Leopardstown Christmas Hurdle, she now returns to her owner and breeder Margaret Brophy.
Voler La Vedette produced perhaps her best and most memorable performance in defeat, when creeping alongside Big Buck's at the final flight of last March's Ladbrokes World Hurdle and almost upsetting the supreme stayer before finishing just under two lengths behind.