Rubi Light on track for Red Mills Chase hat-trick at Gowran
Davy Russell on Rubi Light: "He'll go for the Ryanair again. But first it's the Red Mills Chase. He's won it the last two years. Hopefully the racing will go ahead on Saturday," trainer Rob Hennessy said.
There may be only four weeks until the start of Cheltenham but Rubi Light could head a rush of late festival bookings made this weekend when he returns to familiar territory at Gowran Park on Saturday.
Rob Hennessy’s stable star is on track for a hat-trick of wins in the Grade Two Red Mills Chase, with another tilt at Cheltenham’s Ryanair in the offing afterwards. Rubi Light was successful in the Red Mills in 2011 before running third in the Ryanair at the festival. He also scored last year but could subsequently manage only fifth at Cheltenham. However, the Hennessy runner remains as low as 12/1 in some ante-post lists for the Ryanair this time round and is set to be reunited with regular pilot Andrew Lynch who deserted Rubi Light in favour of Flemenstar and Sizing Europe on both his starts this season.
“He’ll go for the Ryanair again. But first it’s the Red Mills Chase. He’s won it the last two years. Hopefully the racing will go ahead on Saturday. He’s in great form. We gave him a bit of a break and he’s back now,” Hennessy said yesterday.
“He worked the other day on the Curragh – Andrew Lynch rode him – and we’re very happy with him,” he added.
The going at Gowran yesterday was officially “heavy” for a meeting that will also include the Grade Two Trial Hurdle in which last year’s winner Zaidpour heads a quartet of entries from the all-conquering Willie Mullins.
Even though Rubi Light is top-rated in the big chase, the Red Mills could turn out to be a major trial, not just for Cheltenham, but the Aintree Grand National too.
The Mullins pair, On His Own and Price De Beauchene, are currently 12/1 joint favourites with Ladbrokes for the world’s most famous steeplechase and they aren’t the only Liverpool hopefuls among the dozen left in Saturday’s race after yesterday’s confirmation stage.
Ted Walsh has left in both Seabass, third in the National last year, and Colbert Station, winner of the Paddy Power over Christmas. JP McManus’s runner is a best priced 20/1 for Aintree glory.
The dual-French Champion Hurdle winner Thousand Stars also has the option of running in the Gowran Trial Hurdle as he pursues a likely trail to the Aintree Hurdle in April.
Co Cork trainer Michael Winters has left in both Missunited and Rebel Fitz, currently among the 50/1 outsiders for the Champion Hurdle.
Saturday’s fixture has been used to great effect in the past by subsequent festival heroes like the double-Champion Hurdle winner Hardy Eustace. He could finish only second in the 2004 Trial Hurdle before winning the Champion Hurdle just a few weeks later.
Future big-race hints could also be in supply at Navan on Sunday where a triple Grade Two card will include the Ten Up Chase, won last year by the 50/1 Lion Na Bearnai, subsequent winner of the Irish Grand National. In 2011 the Ten Up was won by the subsequent dual-Grade One hero Quito De La Roque.
In other Cheltenham news, trainer Mags Mullins is pondering whether or not to send her good novice Anonis to the festival after a crashing fall at Leopardstown on his last start.
Entered in all three of the big novice hurdles at Cheltenham, the Barry Connell-owned gelding has already clocked up one visit to the Gloucestershire course when winning a bumper in good style at the Open meeting. Winner of his maiden at Christmas, Anonis returned to Leopardstown for a Grade Two at the end of last month when he was moving well until falling at the third last behind Pont Alexandre. “He’ll tell us whether he goes for Cheltenham. He had an easy week because he got a fair bang last time, but he has been back out on the gallops,” Mullins said yesterday.
“It’s getting a bit tight for another run – he’d almost want to be out next week. I’m not sure what we’ll do, we’ll see how he is,” she added.