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Rubi's destiny is good as Gold

BETTER late than never and although the tote.com Punchestown Gold Cup has been pushed back from Wednesday, at least it does look set to go ahead tomorrow afternoon.

The feature race of the week was obviously a major contest that Punchestown did not want to fall by the wayside and at the moment it looks like all the staff concerned have done an amazing job in ensuring that it will go ahead this week.

Quito De La Roque was unfortunately a notable absentee from the race earlier in the week and what can only be described as a nightmare season for him has been brought to a close by Colm Murphy.

As Quito De La Roque was favourite in many ante-post books for this race, that leaves the door open now for the Willie Mullins-trained Quel Esprit to head the betting and continue what has already been a fantastic week for Mullins.

Despite the fact that we have been hit with a depleted card for three days of racing, the champion trainer had already achieved the same amount of winners going into today as he did for the whole of last year's Festival and his horses are clearly flying.



Thrive

Quel Esprit has been off since winning the Irish Hennessy earlier this year and despite being in Cheltenham last month, he was a non-runner from the Gold Cup as Mullins felt he wasn't himself over there.

However, regardless of all the positives for him, Robbie Hennessy's Rubi Light is a horse that will absolutely thrive on that ground and although there are question marks over his stamina, the proven mud-lover is selected to score.

A John Durkan winner at the track, Rubi Light has ran a cracking race in the last two Ryanair Chases at Cheltenham even though the ground was against him and therefore warrants a lot of respect in this Gold Cup now that he has his ideal conditions.

Last year's winner Follow The Plan represents a yard in Oliver McKiernan's that seems to be hitting a purple patch at the minute, although the ground seems to be gone for their stable star.

He won at Aintree just over a fortnight ago and while the extra few days will be a help to him, it could be touch and go if he runs at all, as he really does want nice ground, despite the fact that he has form on heavy if you go back in time far enough.

Rubi Light is the one, however, to top off what has been a magnificent season for Andrew Lynch.

Tomorrow's card is a very good one and there is more Grade One action in the AES Champion Four-Year-Old Hurdle, which sees Alan King send over Balder Succes, a faller when going well in the Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham.

It was only half way through the race last month when he came to grief, but he was given every chance by connections on that occasion and he is worth siding with to finish his season with a fourth win from five starts and this would give him a deserved victory at Grade One level.

Dermot Weld's Hisaabaat was second on that occasion to Countrywide Flame and he is likely to be there or thereabouts again, while Gordon Elliott's Shadow Catcher may appreciate the ground.

The ground wouldn't be a negative for Prunella Dobbs' Our Girl Salley either in the valuable graded mares' hurdle tomorrow. After what we saw Quevega do yesterday, if she can repeat her run behind the star mare from Cheltenham, she has to be hard to beat.



CONDITIONS

Golden Sunbird finished in front of Our Girl Salley on that occasion, but she mightn't appreciate the conditions quite as much.

Recent Fairyhouse winner Bob Lingo could end a fantastic week for trainer Tom Mullins on a high, while another winner from that Grand National meeting is Dedigout who has a good chance in the last for Tony Martin.

Proceedings get under way tomorrow with the third and final cross country chase of the meeting and Sizing Australia is the one that gets the nod from Denis Murphy's Another Jewel.


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