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Rock On Ruby

Rock On Ruby: Champion Hurdle winner could now face Darlan on Monday

  PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (  

Sandown cancels hurdle races on Saturday

SANDOWN'S card on Saturday will be an all-chase one after the hurdle races were abandoned following an early morning inspection.

The cancellation of the meeting's hurdle races means leading Champion Hurdle contender Darlan will likely head to Doncaster on Monday to complete his Cheltenham Festival preparations.

Clerk of the course Andrew Cooper and his team inspected the hurdle course at 8am on Friday and found it waterlogged so the back-up plan of an all-chase card was activated.

The new-look meeting now includes a veterans' race and novice handicap over 2m4½f and a 2m handicap, which join the Grade 1 Betfred-backed novice chase (registered as the Scilly Isles).

Later on Friday afternoon, Cooper called an inspection for the chase course after two areas of concern were identified following 8mm of rain, but the course was passed and no further inspections are anticipated.

Impressive Christmas Hurdle winner Darlan, second favourite behind Hurricane Fly for the Champion Hurdle, is now set to head to Doncaster for a Listed hurdle on Monday after the loss of Sandown's Contenders Hurdle.

"If Sandown is off he will go to Doncaster," his trainer Nicky Henderson told the Racing Post on Thursday.

The JP McManus-owned Darlan could be joined by last year's Champion Hurdle hero Rock On Ruby and Triumph Hurdle winner Countrywide Flame, who captured another top-level success in this term's Fighting Fifth at Newcastle.

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