Reigning champion hurdler, Rock On Ruby, currently a top-priced 10/3 shot, looks set to make his seasonal return at Newcastle on December 1 when tackling the Grade 1 Fighting Fifth Hurdle, a race seen as a key indicator to the relative form of the top two-milers from the major yards, writes Elliot Slater.
With Cinders And Ashes and Darlan also likely to be amongst a number of smart performers contesting the Gosforth Park feature event, the race will provide no easy pickings for Ruby.
The horse is set to have his first start for young trainer, Harry Fry, formerly assistant to Paul Nicholls, who sent out Rock On Ruby to provide a minor surprise when defeating Overturn and the hot favourite, Hurricane Fly, in last season’s renewal of the hurdles blue riband event.
The 25-year-old Fry was responsible for the training of the champion hurdler throughout last season so sees no reason to be nervous at the prospect of having the gelded son of Oscar race under the banner of his own stables.
Fry reports that his charge has schooled very well and is ready to go for what connections hope will be another highly successful campaign.
A winner on his seasonal bow for the last two seasons, Rock On Ruby improved significantly last term, after winning the listed Gerry Fielden Hurdle at Newbury on his first start, then pushed former champion hurdler, Binocular, all the way when going under by just a neck to Nicky Henderson’s star in the Grade 1 Christmas Hurdle at Kempton Park.
In the Champion Hurdle itself, Noel Fehily’s mount took it up between the final two flights before showing too much pace for the gallant front-runner, Overturn, as the odds-on Hurricane Fly for once failed to finds his trademark change of gear.