Tuesday 20 February 2018

Ruby Walsh says soft ground will be the key for Cheltenham Gold Cup aspirations

12 March 2013; Jockey Ruby Walsh with his mount Hurricane Fly after winning the Stan James Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy. Cheltenham Racing Festival 2013, Prestbury Park, Cheltenham, England. Picture credit: Barry Cregg / SPORTSFILE
12 March 2013; Jockey Ruby Walsh with his mount Hurricane Fly after winning the Stan James Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy. Cheltenham Racing Festival 2013, Prestbury Park, Cheltenham, England. Picture credit: Barry Cregg / SPORTSFILE

Ruby Walsh feels Rubi Ball could be a Cheltenham Gold Cup contender as long as the ground is soft.

Sent to Willie Mullins having enjoyed a great career in France, Rubi Ball ran a blinder in the Lexus over Christmas, finishing third behind Bobs Worth.

The Hennessy Gold Cup at Leopardstown on February 9 is likely to be his next target and Walsh believes if the ground is softer than last month, he will take a good deal of beating.

"We were delighted with Rubi Ball's run in the Lexus. He was third, just behind First Lieutenant on his first run over fences in Ireland as all his runs before that had been in France. It was something new for him, but we loved the way he travelled and jumped," Walsh told Racing UK.

"He had a lot of form in France on softer ground and Leopardstown over Christmas was only good to soft at worst.

"He'll have another run, probably in the Hennessy, and if it was a bit softer I'd be hoping he could go close and he could turn into a Gold Cup horse.

"He's going the right way and we were delighted with his run.

"It will be a very good Gold Cup. Silviniaco Conti stayed really well at Kempton and Cheltenham won't inconvenience him, he'll get home over three and a quarter (miles). I was very impressed with the way Bobs Worth quickened up at Leopardstown after the last, you could almost see his stride lengthen.

"Barry (Geraghty) was impressed and he's a good judge. He has an excellent record at Cheltenham."

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