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Rock On Ruby

Rock On Ruby: will wear blinkers in Champion Hurdle on Tuesday

  PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (  

Ruby will wear blinkers in Champion defence

ROCK ON RUBY will seek to defend his Stan James Champion Hurdle crown sporting headgear for the first time after trainer Harry Fry decided that blinkers will yield "improvement" from his Cheltenham Festival candidate.

Last season's wide-margin Champion Hurdle hero has never once finished outside the first four in his 14 career starts, in the last 11 of which he has sported a tongue-tie.

However, excellent homework wearing blinkers has persuaded Fry that the eight-year-old will benefit from using them on Tuesday, when he attempts to follow up his February win at Doncaster.

Fry, writing on the Champion sponsor's website, said: "We had our final schooling session yesterday [Friday] morning with Noel (Fehily) on board and he was awesome. That is due to the fact that he's going to run in first-time blinkers on Tuesday.

"It's something we've quietly, between Ciara (O'Connor) and myself and Noel and the owners, been discussing throughout the season and we feel now is the time to use them.

"He schooled with them on yesterday and last Friday and Noel couldn't pull him up after the first time he went through. He's been razor-sharp. Also we galloped last week on grass with them on so we think they're there to help him and bring about a bit more improvement."

Fry added that progressive staying chaser Opening Batsman will miss Cheltenham and instead reappear at Aintree.

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