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Gold still a Light dream

IT'S been a frustrating season so far for Robbie Hennessy and Rubi Light.

His seasonal debut was marred with a final fence fall which cost him victory in the Grade Two Pricewaterhouse Coopers Champion Chase in October.

Two engagements since had to be bypassed due to an infection, but Hennessy is hoping to get his current stable star back on track this Sunday at Punchestown.

The missed assignments at Down Royal, for the JNWine.com Champion Chase, and at Haydock, for the Betfair, were both, thankfully, unrelated to the crashing fall he took with Davy Russell at Gowran and a relieved Hennessy reports that hasn't left any ill effects.



DISASTER

Hennessy told the Herald: "It looked like it was all going well until he came down at the last in Gowran Park. That was just a disaster. In hindsight, it could have been a lot worse, it looked fairly bad at the time.

"I never thought I'd see him falling as he's such a good jumper. I was counting my money coming down to the last as it looked in the bag."

If you are going to have a real frustrating stage in a season, pre-Christmas is the time to have it, though, and if it all goes plain sailing from here to the latter end, Hennessy won't have any regrets.

Naturally, dreams of the Gold Cup for the six-year-old live on, and he has to have as realistic claims for Cheltenham's blue riband event as any horse trained on these shores following a promising campaign last season.

However, connections have been unable to gauge his progression so far due to the setback that denied him the opportunity of taking on Quito De La Roque at Down Royal or former Gold Cup winners Kauto Star and Long Run at Haydock.

"We brought him to the Curragh before we were going to run him in Down Royal and Andrew (Lynch) rode him and, in fairness, he knows him best and he didn't work to his usual self.



INFECTION

"We got some blood tests and they came back with a bit of a viral infection so we put him on the easy list, gave him a few tonics and freshened him up."

The entry fee was paid and Haydock was on the agenda but then that too was skipped. "We worked him and Andrew just felt he was nearly back to his best but not 100pc, so we said there was no point in bringing him over if he's not 100pc and gave him more time," the trainer continued.

Now it appears only an unhealthy weather forecast can deny him a run on Sunday, as he prepares to step up in grade once more ahead of the Lexus at Leopardstown over Christmas.

"He worked last Sunday morning at Dundalk and we were delighted with him, so it's all go now for the John Durkan," he told the Herald.

"He has his ground. After Cheltenham you maybe could say he's not as ground dependent but if you could pick your ground you'd pick heavy for him.

At just six, Rubi Light put up a very bold display in the Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, a run that connections were pleased silenced some doubters.

That was a run that confirmed Rubi Light as a possible Gold Cup contender and now that historic race is the plan until the horse suggests otherwise.

The Ratoath trainer said: "The horse is only six and is still only a baby. He had to do it the hard way last year as he won a chase in France, so he didn't have a novice season over here. You'd imagine if he could have gone the novice route last year he'd have mopped the floors, so it's just unfortunate we had to throw him in with the big boys last year.

"Andrew Lynch and Davy Russell both think the horse will be better over three miles so, all going well, on Sunday he'll go for the Lexus and that's the race that will tell us where we're going, be it the Ryanair or a go at the Gold Cup."

Having tasted success at Cheltenham with Sublimity as owners, when he was produced spot-on to pull off a gamble in the Champion Hurdle, Robbie and his father, Bill Hennessy, would love to claim another championship race next March, and the biggest of all to boot.



numbers

"Absolutely, the dream is to run in the Gold Cup, but unless he earns his place in the Gold Cup and shows us on Sunday and in the Lexus that he should take his chance in it, he won't be there."

Some will tell you that jockeys are often the worst judges, but Hennessy is relying on two shrewd ones, Davy Russell and Andrew Lynch, to put him right.

He said: "If I thought he didn't stay the trip, I'd go back to the Ryanair, but the jockeys are telling me he will and they're meant to be the experts!"

Sunday's John Durkan is the next step on what could be an exciting journey.


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