Saturday 20 January 2018

In brief: Ruby resumes winning ways

RUBY WALSH recorded his first winner since returning from a broken leg when unknown French quantity Mon Parrain (9-2) took the Mobile Betting At paddypower.com Handicap Chase at Sandown.

"He travelled unbelievably well," said Walsh. "It was a weak contest and if he produced his best form he was going to be hard to beat.

"He jumped so well -- he was passing horses in the air. He's a wonderful jumper and he would be a great ride round the big National fences at Aintree. "It's good to get a winner but I've not ridden many (since returning to action) that should have won."

Alarazi in the hunt for bonus

Alarazi fulfilled one of Lucy Wadham's long-held ambitions by winning the Paddy Power Imperial Cup at Sandown yesterday.

The final major race before the Cheltenham Festival has frustrated the Newmarket trainer on several occasions, but she put the record straight in style as Dominic Elsworth powered clear of 7-1 joint-favourite Via Galilei up the hill.

He could well be at the Festival this week, possibly for Friday's County Hurdle, as he will claim a £75,000 bonus from the sponsors if he completes a short-notice double.

"If he's sound I'd like to run at Cheltenham," said the trainer. "He's in both the County Hurdle and the Martin Pipe and they are both on the same day. Whatever one he gets into he'll go for, but I'd prefer the County."

Limerick lift for So Young

Supporters of So Young at Cheltenham next week will have been pleased to see Harpsy Cord win untroubled at Limerick.

Jim Dreaper's charge, a chaser in the making, had no trouble landing odds of 4-7 in the Tote Jackpot Rollover Maiden Hurdle, coming home eight lengths clear of Rockshandy (66-1).

He had previously been 16 lengths behind Willie Mullins' So Young, who runs in either the Supreme or Neptune Novices' Hurdle, and last time out he chased home Mullins' Raptor, an Albert Bartlett possible.

"He should make a nice chaser next season, and will have just one more run over hurdles," said Dreaper.

McCoy a long shot for title

Tony McCoy looks up against it in the top jockey contest at the Festival. Other than Binocular in the Champion Hurdle, the champion jockey looks like having only an outside chance in most contests.

Priced at 7/1 for the prize, he is due to ride Captain Cee Bee in the Champion Chase, and Kempes in the Gold Cup, and admitted during last week he'll most likely be taking Nicky Henderson's second string horses in a lot of the other races, with Barry Geraghty having first choice.

Geraghty is the second favourite at 3/1, while fit again Ruby Walsh is favourite for the title yet again at 6/4 with what looks like another strong pool of horses to choose from both the Paul Nicholls and Willie Mullins teams. Two of Walsh's leading hopes Quevega and Big Buck's have been labelled festival bankers by many.

An outsider to note would be Paul Townend at 16/1. The Cork native is bound to get his fair share of Willie Mullins's top horses given the way he's been taking his chances this season.

Watering set to continue

The ground for Cheltenham's Old course looks set to be good to soft again on the opening day of the festival. Rain was due to fall on the track last night but clerk of the course Simon Claisse did not rule out watering again between now and Tuesday. The ground is currently good to soft, good in places on the old course, which is the course used for the first two days.

RONAN GROOME

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