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Monday 11 December 2017

Harry Fry resigned to lose of Fehily

Winning combination to be broken up as trainer makes Cheltenham plans for Ruby

Jockey Noel Fehily, aboard Rock On Ruby, celebrates after winning the Stan James Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy. Cheltenham Racing Festival, Prestbury Park, Cheltenham, England
Jockey Noel Fehily, aboard Rock On Ruby, celebrates after winning the Stan James Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy. Cheltenham Racing Festival, Prestbury Park, Cheltenham, England

TRAINER Harry Fry admits there is "every possibility" Rock On Ruby will require a new rider in the Ladbrokes World Hurdle at Cheltenham on March 12.

Noel Fehily has been ever present in the saddle since Rock On Ruby's triumph in the 2012 Champion Hurdle when trained by Paul Nicholls, a sequence of 14 consecutive races.

But with Fehily retained by Potensis Bloodstock, part-owners of leading World Hurdle candidate Zarkandar, that run looks set to come to an end.

Fry, however, is in absolutely no rush to book a potential replacement.

CROSS

The Dorset handler said: "Noel is retained to ride Zarkandar and there is every possibility that he won't be available, but we will cross that bridge when we know the final decision. I've had a few text messages about it.

"We've got two weeks to go. The horses and jockeys have got to get there first and the plans are fluid.

"We can't confirm either way who'll end up riding him at the moment."

Barry Geraghty thinks Whisper could be a major player in the three-mile feature on day three of the Festival.

Winner of the Coral Cup last year and a Grade One victor on his next outing at Aintree, the Nicky Henderson-trained seven-year-old failed to take to fences at the first attempt on his seasonal bow at Exeter last month.

Closely matched with fellow World Hurdle hope Saphir Du Rheu - a head separated the pair in last season's Welsh Champion Hurdle at Ffos Las - Geraghty thinks he should not be discounted.

"I think he's set for a good spring and he's showing plenty of sparkle ahead of the World Hurdle," he said

"With More Of That out of the race, it has a wide-open look about it and the form of his Grade One win at Aintree is there for all to see."

RICHIE McLERNON has guided Holywell to Cheltenham Festival glory for the last two seasons and trainer Jonjo O'Neill is banking on the combination coming good once more in the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup.

The application of first-time blinkers helped the eight-year-old spring a 25-1 surprise in the 2013 Pertemps Final under McLernon, who was also on board when the partnership struck gold in handicap company over fences just 12 months later.

Having finished third behind subsequent Hennessy hero Many Clouds on his seasonal return at Carlisle, Holywell unseated McLernon at Aintree in December.

But with the blinkers fitted once more, he got his season back on track under Tony McCoy with a stylish display at Kelso.

With McCoy set to partner Carlingford Lough for his boss JP McManus, O'Neill is pleased to call upon McLernon's services once more and is keeping his fingers crossed for a sound surface at Cheltenham on March 13.

O'Neill said: "Richie McLernon won on him the last twice (Iast two Festivals) and I've no reason not to put him on as he's done a good job on him and they click well together.

"He could do with it drying out a bit, but he likes Cheltenham, having won over fences here last year.

"Hopefully he'll win the Gold Cup this year."

ALAN KING is confident Balder Succes is in "very good form" ahead of his tilt at the Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival on March 12.

The seven-year-old has done most of his racing over two miles, but a step up in distance has helped his cause in the second half of this season.

After winning a Listed prize at Kempton in January, Balder Succes clinched Grade One honours in the Ascot Chase a month later.

King will be hoping his charge enjoys better luck than at previous Festivals after he fell in the 2012 Triumph Hurdle and unseated his rider in the Champion Hurdle a year later.

The Barbury Castle handler said: "He has stepped forward now that we've found the right trip.

"He was just found wanting in the early part of the season over two miles.

"Now he's got his conditions, he seems in very good form," he added.

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