HARRY Fry has confirmed that last year’s Champion Hurdle hero Rock On Ruby is “quite likely to run” in the 32Red Hurdle at Doncaster’s additional fixture on Monday.
Fry had initially hoped to see his charge complete preparations for the defence of his Cheltenham crown in this weekend’s Betfred Mobile Sports Contenders Hurdle, but effectively ruled him out of the race earlier this week due the testing conditions at Sandown. The trainer then identified the Kingwell Hurdle at Wincanton on 16 February as the most likely port of call for his stable star but he has now had a change of heart after the British Horseracing Authority gave the green light to a new Doncaster meeting, featuring the Listed 32Red Hurdle.
Fry said: “We have given him the entry and, although I need to speak to the owners and discuss things with them before we finalise anything, I would say at this stage he is quite likely to run. We’ve said the ground at Sandown this weekend is going to be too testing for him and it looks like we might lose the Contenders Hurdle anyway.
“We don’t know what the ground is going to be like at Wincanton and the Doncaster race fits in perfectly timing-wise ahead of Cheltenham. The BHA must be applauded. It’s a great initiative to get this race on, having already lost the Champion Hurdle Trial at Haydock and probably the race at Sandown on Saturday. Noel Fehily came in to school the horse this morning and we’re very happy with him. He’s ready to run.”
A decision on whether the four hurdle races will be run at Sandown’s meeting tomorrow has been delayed until this morning. Officials at the Esher venue have been given the flexibility by the British Horseracing Authority to put a final decision back until a further inspection at 8am. Should the hurdles course be declared unfit, then a six-race all-chase card will take place.
At Wincanton yesterday, The Carling Johny Whitcombe Fan Club Novices’ Chase turned out to be a hugely eventful race, with Brendan Powell’s 14-1 shot Milans Well running out a fortuitous winner.
Tenor Nivernais unseated his jockey three out, leaving Valoroso and hot favourite Ambion Wood to seemingly fight out the finish but the complexion of the race changed in the straight.
Valoroso had mastered Ambion Wood from the second last but crumpled on landing when well clear jumping the final fence under Daryl Jacob. Ambion Wood clambered over the last with the lead but was clearly a very tired horse and the once tailed off Milans Well came through to claim victory.
Jacob’s luck changed in the following Grolsch Handicap Chase as the Nick Williams-trained Politeo (11-2) ran out a comfortable eight-length winner.