Rock On Ruby: set to make his seasonal debut in International HurdlePICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
Ruby could go straight
to Champion after return
REIGNING Champion Hurdle hero Rock On Ruby could head straight to the Cheltenham Festival for the defence of his title after he makes his seasonal debut in the International Hurdle on December 15.
The seven-year-old missed his intended return in last Saturday's Fighting Fifth, won by Countrywide Flame, due to testing conditions at Newcastle, and rookie trainer Harry Fry has revealed he would have no qualms about sending his stable star back to Cheltenham in March without another run under his belt.
Fry, quoted in an exclusive stable tour in Wednesday's Weekender, said: "We were all set for Newcastle last weekend but the ground was far too soft, so we decided that he could wait and go to Cheltenham for the International Hurdle.
"I know all roads lead to the festival in March, but this is a huge prize for me in its own right and he won't be lacking fitness - in fact he is in great form.
Harry Fry: trains Rock On RubyPICTURE: Getty Images
"If we had run at Newcastle the plan had been to go to Kempton for the Christmas Hurdle afterwards, but there's only 11 days between the races so we won't go down that route now."
Fry, who trained his sixth winner of the season at Plumpton on Monday, said: "He went straight to the Champion off a long break last season and if we had to do the same this season then that would be fine, though there would also be the Kingwell Hurdle at Wincanton to consider nearer the time or he could have a racecourse gallop."
Rock On Ruby, who landed last season's Champion Hurdle in the hands of Noel Fehily when based with Fry and Richard Barber at champion trainer Paul Nicholls' satellite yard in Seaborough, is no bigger than 8-1 with bet365 to record back-to-back wins next year.
To read Harry Fry's thoughts on his up-and-coming string, pick up a copy of the Weekender - available to buy from Wednesday