Trainer Harry Fry is praying that less rain than forecast falls at Doncaster so as to get another run into Rock On Ruby today.
The 2012 Champion Hurdle winner has only had one run over the bigger obstacles and his presence in the Eventmasters Corporate Hospitality Novices’ Chase has scared off all bar one opponent, the useful but quirky Mr Mole from Paul Nicholls’ yard.
However, due to the fact Rock On Ruby has had issues with his breathing in the past, Fry will not risk his stable star on ground he feels is too soft.
“I’m just praying they don’t get too much rain overnight,” said the Dorset handler. “They’ve had four dry days up there, unbelievably, and only had two millimetres of rain overnight, which is nothing. The ground is good to soft and obviously it depends what they get tonight. They are forecast up to 9mm and, if they get that and it turns soft, then we wouldn’t go. But if they were to get less than five then we’d be making our way up.
“It’s only a match but the horse comes first. The fact he only has one rival wouldn’t affect our decision. I’ve been in regular contact with the clerk of the course Roderick Duncan and I will be overnight, I suspect. I hope it’s third time lucky that we get to run him at Doncaster, having missed the first two.
“It’s the best ground anywhere in the county but they’ve got gusting winds and that might help keep some of the rain off.
“Noel [Fehily] schooled him on Tuesday over some fences in case he does run and he jumped well, Noel was delighted with him. He’s a popular horse so we want to do what is right by him.”
In the warmer climes of Dubai, Mikel Delzangles’ globetrotting veteran Dunaden makes his return to action in the second round of the Al Maktoum Challenge at Meydan today.
The eight-year-old has earned his connections more than £5 million during a career which has seen him clinch a Melbourne Cup, a Hong Kong Vase and a Caulfield Cup. He has been placed in numerous other Group 1 events and was last seen finishing third when aiming to regain his Hong Kong crown.
The Sheikh Fahad-owned entire makes his return over an extended nine furlongs in Dubai, with racing manager David Redvers keen to find out whether he should be aimed for the ten-furlong Dubai World Cup or the Dubai Sheema Classic over a mile and a half, in which he finished fourth last year. Dunaden will be ridden by Harry Bentley for the first time. Redvers said: “He’s in very good form. As he always has, I’m sure he’ll come on for his first run, but Mikel is delighted with his condition.”
Dunaden is one of 16 declared runners in the Group Two feature, with Mike de Kock’s recent winner Zahee and Godolphin-owned trio Hunter’s Light, African Story and Artigiano also in the line-up.
Sheikh Fahad is also represented in the UAE 1000 Guineas, with David Brown’s Illuminating Dream carrying the owner’s Qatar Racing silks. “It’s hard to know what to expect from her. We’re running her to see where we stand,” said Redvers.