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Friday, 14 December, 2018

Ruby Walsh '100 per cent' and ready to go for Cheltenham Festival

Ruby Walsh: riding work since the weekend
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The winningmost rider at the Cheltenham Festival reported himself ready to rumble on Monday – and Ruby Walsh's legion of followers should get a chance to see him make his long-awaited return from injury this week.

Walsh has been back riding out for Willie Mullins since the weekend and is set to return to race-riding, though when he does so depends on how Ireland's rearranged schedule of meetings pan out following the recent snow.

Walsh, who has 56 festival winners and has been top jockey on 11 occasions, including for the past five years, said: "I went back riding out at Willie's on Saturday and I'm feeling 100 per cent and ready to go.

"Whether I'll be back riding before Cheltenham will depend on what the weather does and what meetings are on in Ireland later this week – and what horses will be running."

Walsh, 38, has been out of action since November, when he fractured his right tibia in a fall from Let's Dance over hurdles at Punchestown.

Mullins said: "It's great to have Ruby back riding out and we're looking forward to having him back in action on the track.

"I have a good few entries made for Navan and Thurles on Thursday, and for Leopardstown on Friday, and we'll have entries for Gowran [Saturday] and Naas [Sunday], so I'd imagine we'll have our share of runners."

Walsh is 4-6 to be leading jockey again at Cheltenham next week, when his first mount is set to be Getabird, whom he has never ridden in public, in the opening Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle.

Getabird was on Monday a best-priced 13-8 favourite in a market that also feature Samcro, who is set to contest the Ballymore, for which he is odds on, unless the ground is severely testing.

When asked about market jitters over Samcro's target, Eddie O'Leary, racing manager to owner Gigginstown House Stud, said: “Switching Samcro from the Ballymore to the Supreme is something we’re not even thinking about. It doesn’t interest us that his price for the Supreme has shortened. 

“Unless the ground becomes brutally heavy – and I hope for everyone’s sake that won’t be the case – it isn’t something we’ll even consider.” 

With a thaw having set in following last week's Arctic conditions, prospects for racing resuming in Ireland this week have improved significantly, although on Monday some snow remained at Navan and Leopardstown.

The schooling morning scheduled for Leopardstown on Tuesday has been cancelled, and updates on conditions there and at Navan will be issued on Tuesday.

The ground at Thurles on Monday was described as heavy, with cold weather and showers forecast for the next couple of days.

Racecourse manager Kate Molony said: "We shovelled away most of the snow that remained today. Lorcan Wyer [clerk of the course] will be here in the morning and we'll see what he says. I'm reasonably hopeful we'll be okay."

Eddie Scally, manager of Gowran Park, said: "Apart from the section from the top of the hill into the straight, where the area is sheltered by trees, the snow has gone. If the forecast is right we should be good to race on Saturday on heavy ground."

Tom Ryan, manager at Naas, where racing is scheduled for Sunday, said: "I've just walked the course and the amount of snow is down 50 per cent since Saturday.

"There is still two or three inches in places but the hurdle course is mostly raceable. If the thaw continues as forecast I'd be very hopeful we'll be okay for Sunday."

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Whether I'll be back riding before Cheltenham will depend on what the weather does and what horses will be running
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