Saturday 18 August 2018

Thurles comeback for Ruby ahead of Cheltenham

Ruby Walsh. Photo: INPHO
Ruby Walsh. Photo: INPHO

Thomas Kelly

Ruby Walsh could return to race-riding at Thurles tomorrow after nearly four months on the sidelines.

Walsh has been out of action since suffering a broken leg in a fall from Let's Dance at Punchestown on November 18.

He has always maintained he would be back in time for the Cheltenham Festival, where he has been leading rider 11 times, and has the added incentive of partnering ante-post favourite Getabird in the Supreme Novices' Hurdle that opens the Festival meeting next Tuesday.

Walsh had hoped to make his comeback last weekend but the cold snap put paid to that.

With a marked improvement in the weather, the champion jockey now has his sights set on Thurles, with the meeting scheduled for Navan cancelled.

"I'm ready for action. I've been riding out for dad (Ted) for the last two-and-a-half weeks," said Walsh.

As for how many rides he will take ahead of the Festival, Walsh will weigh up each opportunity.

"It's risk versus reward. For the last 15-and-a-half weeks the reward for me has always been the Supreme, so it's how many risks do you take. Every time you ride in a race you take a chance," he added.

"You have to balance up how many risks you are going to take before you get the ultimate reward and for me that has always been to walk out for the Supreme Novices'.

"I've always been careful in the past and it won't be any different this year.

"Cheltenham has always been very lucky for me and I always enjoy going there."

Meanwhile, Jessica Harrington is thinking of putting Sizing John through his paces at Leopardstown on Friday ahead of the eight-year-old's bid to become the first horse to successfully defend the Cheltenham Gold Cup crown since Best Mate in 2003.

"We may go to Leopardstown on Friday evening to give him a jump and a gallop. I'm not certain, it will just depend on what the weather does," said the Moone handler. "We seem to be on course with him. I'm happy with him."

Harrington has a good second string to her bow in last year's Irish Grand National victor Our Duke, which was due to be acquainted with his big-race pilot Noel Fehily in a work-out.

"He's in great order. He's going to go to the Gold Cup so we've got two chances," she said.

"Trainers never know who is going to beat who. They've never worked against each other. If everything went well, there wouldn't be much between them."

Nicky Henderson has revealed he has a secret plan for Might Bite in the blue riband on Friday week.

While he would not disclose any details, the Seven Barrows handler admitted his team had come up with a course of action to aid the King George VI Chase winner in his attempt to lift jump racing's most coveted prize.

"We've devised a battle plan for Might Bite, but we're not telling anyone," Henderson told Unibet's Cheltenham Festival preview.

"Good to soft come the Friday would be ideal for everybody. I do think he likes good ground. The better the ground, the better (his chances).

"He's as good as gold. His schooling the other morning was scarily good.

"Nico (de Boinville) has ridden him at home and he was great. He doesn't do anything wrong at home - he's just had those couple of blips.

"His mind, you just have to read a little bit. He just needs to be minded. Things can upset him - it doesn't in a race - but you just have to be very careful with him."

Irish Independent

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