Ruby Walsh returns to action with a winner at Thurles
Champion jockey has one ride, on board Karalee, at Leopardstown on Friday
Ruby Walsh: proved his return to full fitness by guiding Lareena to victory at Thurles. Photograph: Oisín Keniry/Inpho
Ruby Walsh had a perfect return to action at Thurles on Thursday when winning on his comeback ride and will continue his build-up to Cheltenham with a single spin at Leopardstown on Friday.
The champion jockey guided the Willie Mullins-trained Lareena to success in a maiden hurdle, the 11-8 favourite beating her market rival Awayinthewest by five lengths.
It was a first racecourse ride for Walsh since breaking his leg at Punchestown in November and there was not a hint of rustiness as he rode out Lareena in the closing stages.
“I thought I was alright anyway – she won didn’t she!” Walsh joked afterwards. “We’ll see what Willie decides to do [before Cheltenham] but I don’t mind. I’ll do whatever Willie wants me to do. When you’re back, you’re back and he’s my boss now again!”
He added: “She [Lareena] did it well and jumped really well. I thought she might struggle to beat Pat Fahy’s mare [Awayinthewest] but she had fitness on her side and ground it out well.”
Walsh teams up again with Mullins on Friday where he is scheduled to ride Karalee in the first contest at the Dublin track which also hosts an opportunity for festival prospects to work after racing.
Earlier this week Jessica Harrington didn’t rule out giving her Gold Cup hero Sizing John a school over the Leopardstown fences while Mullins could also send some of his Cheltenham prospects to the track.
“We’re very conscious that trainers have been snowed in for the past week and so we’ve presented them with an opportunity to use the facilities here,” said Leopardstown’s chief executive, Pat Keogh.
Joseph O’Brien is one of the leading trainers who will work horses after a card which sees the former Champion Hurdle winner, Jezki, line up against Karalee in the opener.
The 2014 Cheltenham hero is Barry Geraghty’s sole ride of the day and, even though he looks a light of former years, Jezki still looks good enough for this task.
Davy Russell, has two spins on the card, including aboard topweight Jetstream Jack in the featured €50,000 TRI handicap chase.
Classic considerations rather than Cheltenham will be the focus of attention at Dundalk on Friday night where Aidan O’Brien’s Breeders Cup winner Mendelssohn goes on trial for the Kentucky Derby.
The Scat Daddy colt is 20-1 in some ante-post lists for the ‘Run For The Roses’ which has the Listed Patton Stakes as part of its ‘Road To Kentucky’ European series.
No European based horse has ever won US racing’s most famous race but Mendelssohn’s progress from finishing last to Seahenge in the Champagne in September, through to finishing runner-up in the Dewhurst before winning at Del Mar was spectacular.
Ryan Moore travels to Dundalk to ride the brother to top American dirt mare, Beholder. O’Brien also runs Seahenge and Threeandfourpence who were behind their stable companion in the Dewhurst. Both of those colts are also among current entries for the Kentucky Derby.