Fry backs Ruby comeback

Trainer Harry Fry believes Rock on Ruby can turn the tables on Zarkander and Grandouet at Cheltenham next year and defend his Champion Hurdle after losing out last weekend (Rock on Ruby 8/1 – 2013 Champion Hurdle).

The Irish-born gelding made his seasonal debut at Prestbury Park last Saturday in the International Hurdle but was well beaten into third by rivals Zarkander and Grandouet.

With the going soft, conditions were far from suited to the seven-year-old and he couldn’t keep up with the up duo as they charged up the hill at Cheltenham.

As a result Zarkander and Grandouet have moved away of Fry’s star charge in the Champion Hurdle betting at 6/1 and 7/1 respectively, with former winner Hurricane Fly still the 9/2 favourite.

Having seen Rock on Ruby classed as an outsider before last year’s win, Fry isn’t worried and hopes he can romp to victory again in March.

“The 12-1 he went out to was massive and we snapped it up as quickly as we could. What Saturday showed you was a real staying performance from Zarkandar which may have proved he was less like a Champion Hurdle horse,” he said.

“Grandouet obviously travelled well and had his turn of foot blunted by the conditions.

“He’s the one to fear come March because that was a great run off a 12-month lay-off and his turn of speed will come into play on better ground.”

Fry went on to say that he plans to give Rock on Ruby one more run out before the Cheltenham Festival, with the Kingwell Hurdle at Wincanton or the Contenders’ Hurdle at Sandown the most likely races.

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