Ruby snubs impressive Christmas winner to keep ride on Klassical Dream
Chanelle Pharma Novice Hurdle (Grade 1) | 2m | 5yo+ | RTV/RTE2
Has Ruby Walsh chosen right?
Aramon won the Paddy Power Future Champions Novice Hurdle at Christmas by ten lengths, the same winning distance as Hurricane Fly in 2008, but that dazzling display was not enough to convince Ruby Walsh to ride him in this Grade 1. What does that say about Klassical Dream?
Walsh had four Willie Mullins-trained novices to choose from and he sides with the ex-French horse, who has already had eight starts over hurdles, the most recent of which was his first win in a maiden hurdle over this course and distance.
On that occasion Klassical Dream had Vision D'Honneur almost six lengths behind him in fourth and Walsh obviously believes he can confirm that form.
Mullins said: "Klassical Dream is a smart sort and Ruby is looking forward to riding him. He won his maiden here at Christmas very well."
So what of Aramon, the rapidly-improving six-year-old who is already rated 146? Mullins said: "Aramon has done little wrong this season. He was impressive at Christmas and we're hoping he'll progress again and produce another good performance."
Prince D'Aubrelle has won his last four starts but has been seen only once since October 2015. He returns from a 269-day absence in a red-hot affair.
"We've always thought a lot of Prince D'Aubrelle," said Mullins. "He's had his problems but is well and ready to start back."
Elixir D'Ainay, who was put in his place by Vision D'Honneur at Punchestown last month, renews rivalry with the Gordon Elliott-trained youngster as he looks to exact revenge.
"Elixir D'Ainay ran very well when second on his first start for us at Punchestown last month and he's been in good form since," Mullins added.
Will Elliott's Vision become a reality?
There were a few long faces when Vision D'Honneur was only fourth on his first start for Gordon Elliott in a maiden hurdle at Leopardstown over Christmas, but we found out why his reputation was so tall at Punchestown last month when she easily disposed of Elixir D'Ainay.
Elliott said: "Vision D'Honneur is a nice horse. We were disappointed he was beaten first time out here at Leopardstown but the first three home that day all had experience and it wasn't a bad run at all.
"He was good at Punchestown and this has been the plan since. He's in good form."
Will Entoucas prove overpriced?
Entoucas was not too far behind Klassical Dream over Christmas, just a length and three-quarters in fact, so does he deserve to be a double-figure price?
"Entoucas was second in a maiden hurdle last time and is now stepping up in class, but it looked a good maiden and he's in good shape," said Joseph O'Brien.
The 25-year-old trainer also runs the consistent Triplicate. He blotted his copybook against Aramon, but different tactics will be deployed this time.
O'Brien said: "Triplicate ran badly last time, when we think we might have got the tactics a bit wrong. We'll probably ride him a bit differently this time."
Can Valdieu step up?
Following four defeats, albeit placed in each one, Valdieu is slowly but surely starting to live up to his big reputation.
It was hard not to be impressed by the manner of his maiden hurdle win at Naas, hot on the heels of a wide-margin bumper win at Down Royal. He now looks to take the step up to Grade 1 company in his stride.
The eight-runner field is completed by the maiden Dancing On My Own, who is trained by Henry de Bromhead.
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