Fry targets Doncaster to boost Rock On Ruby's Arkle chances
FORMER Champion Hurdler Rock On Ruby is on course to have his second run over fences at Doncaster on Saturday.
Harry Fry's stable star made a smooth debut over the larger obstacles at Plumpton in early December and the trainer is now considering a tilt at the Racing Post Lightning Novices' Chase.
"I've not really had a good look at the race yet, but I've just spoken to the clerk of the course at Doncaster to get the latest on the ground and the forecast," said Fry.
"We will be governed by the ground, but Ruby is very well in himself. We really need to be lining up on Saturday to have him on course for a crack at the Arkle.
"We need to get the experience into him, but finding the better ground is tricky. There is a back-up plan, but we would like to run at Doncaster."
The 2012 Cheltenham hero could face opposition from this side of the Irish Sea as Charles Byrnes has entered the promising Arnaud and Willie Mullins could let last month's Leopardstown winner Djakadam take its chance.
Alan King's Valdez - twice a winner already this term - is among the 12 entries along with stablemate Raya Star and Emma Lavelle's progressive Fox Appeal, which comprehensively beat Raya Star in an Ascot Grade Two before Christmas.
Exeter winner Caid Du Berlais is the Paul Nicholls representative and former top hurdler Grandouet could represent champion trainer Nicky Henderson.
Meanwhile, the Nicholls-trained Unioniste tops a total of 25 horses to stand their ground for the featured Sky Bet Chase on the same card. Along with the top-weight, the Ditcheat handler also has Pacha Du Polder, Sam Winner and Harry The Viking in the race, while Henderson relies upon Roberto Goldback.
Donald McCain has two to choose from in Kruzhlinin and Our Mick, and so has Lavelle with exciting novice Gullinbursti and Court By Surprise.
Last year's Grand National hero Auroras Encore could turn out again for trainer Sue Smith.