'Stronger' Ruby ready to defend crown
Harry Fry reports Rock On Ruby to be "bigger and stronger" ahead of the defence of his Stan James Champion Hurdle crown.
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The first season trainer hopes to give his charge a prep race before the Festival and was encouraged by his reappearance run in the stanjames.com International Hurdle at Cheltenham in December.
"He is all set for a prep run at either Sandown on February 2 (Contenders Hurdle) or at Wincanton on February 16 (Kingwell Hurdle), weather permitting, as I'm not sure what the winter is going to bring next," said Fry.
"He is not going to run on heavy ground between now and Cheltenham. If the ground is decent, he will have a prep run but if not, he will have a racecourse gallop instead.
"He is in great form at the moment and his run in the International has brought him on a ton - I am very pleased with him. Noel (Fehily) felt he was on the winner the whole way at Cheltenham. He travelled like the best horse in the race but the lack of a recent run at that level in those conditions counted against him turning in and over the last.
"I think he will have had to have improved since last year's Champion Hurdle to win this year's race but he has improved and is much bigger and stronger. My assistant Ciara O'Connor, who rides Rock On Ruby everyday, has been saying that all season and Noel felt exactly the same after the run in December."