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Rock On Ruby (left)

Rock On Ruby (left): won last season's Champion Hurdle under Noel Fehily

  PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (  

Big guns on course to clash in International

REIGNING Champion Hurdle hero Rock On Ruby is on course to clash with Grandouet and Zarkandar in Saturday's International Hurdle at Cheltenham after the star trio featured among nine entries on Tuesday.

The 2m1f contest, which was reopened until 11am on Tuesday but attracted no further entries, was won impressively by the Nicky Henderson-trained Grandouet last season before he was forced to miss the Cheltenham Festival through injury.

And with Elite Hurdle winner Zarkandar also in the field, Rock On Ruby looks sure to face a tough task on his first start for more than eight months.

The seven-year-old missed his intended seasonal debut in Newcastle's Fighting Fifth on account of the ground, but Harry Fry, who was responsible for his day-to-day training while officially under the care of champion trainer Paul Nicholls last season, said he is in good shape before his comeback.

Quoted in Tuesday's Racing Post, Fry said: "I'm very pleased with Rock On Ruby and the plan is to run at Cheltenham. My girlfriend Ciara O'Connor rides him every day and knows him better than anyone, and she is very happy with him. It should be nice winter ground, and that will be fine for us."

The Unicoin Homes Relkeel Hurdle, which was also reopened until Tuesday, has attracted nine entries, including the Henderson-trained Oscar Whisky along with Prospect Wells, Get Me Out Of Here and Raya Star.

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