Thursday 23 November 2017

Ruby on double at Chepstow as Cristal Bonus jumps into Festival frame for Nicholls

Thomas Kelly

ruby walsh made a flying visit to east Wales yesterday and the trip paid off as he left Chepstow with a short-priced double.

Both of the former champion jockey's winners were trained by Paul Nicholls and Cristal Bonus may have made a late bid to join the Ditcheat supremo's formidable Cheltenham Festival team after a superb debut over fences.

The exciting French recruit had failed to make much impact on his first couple of starts over hurdles for Evan Williams last winter, but has since been switched to the care of the champion trainer.

The 4/9 favourite travelled powerfully throughout the beginners' chase in the hands of Walsh and produced some accurate leaps en route to a 25-length win over Simply Wings.

"The ground was quite deep and we went a good old gallop," said Walsh. "He's won a long way and was very impressive. He jumped super and you couldn't be happier -- he's one to look forward to."

Nicholls and Walsh were on the mark again as Hawkes Point proved much too good for his rivals in the three-mile maiden hurdle.

The 13/8 market leader got in a little tight to the third-last but soon asserted himself and had six lengths in hand over Great Gusto.

The feature race on the card was the two-mile handicap hurdle and it saw Cotillion strike for jockey Harry Skelton and in-form trainer Ian Williams.

Meanwhile, Richard Hughes expressed relief after the one-month riding ban the Kildare native received in India was revoked and replaced by a fine.

Richard Hannon's stable jockey was adjudged to have elbowed a rival after suffering interference aboard Star Trainer in Mumbai.

While the rider claimed he was merely defending himself, Star Trainer was disqualified from second and Hughes banned for a month, which was due to start tomorrow.

But the decision has now been reversed and he will instead be fined 100,000 rupee, which equates to €1,540. "I'm relieved and it's a big weight off my mind," Hughes said.

"It means I can ride in the Oaks this weekend and the Derby in a couple of weeks, which is the main reason I came out to India in the first place.

"To be fair, the appeal board saw second-to-second video slow-motion evidence which proved my innocence."

Irish Independent

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