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Ruby Walsh exclusive: It’s the moment of truth for Hurricane Fly and why I’ll be shouting my head off in the Greatwood Hurdle

Ireland's record-breaking NH legend on his best rides at Punchestown, Hurricane Fly v Jezki and the featured handicap hurdle at the Cotswolds.

by Ruby Walsh | November 15, 2014

I’m staying at home to ride at Punchestown on Sunday – but have more than a passing interest in the Greatwood Hurdle (below) at Cheltenham.

Cheltenham Sunday Extra Place 1430

PUNCHESTOWN on SUNDAY:

Sir Ector 12.35pm:

He was second to Mind the Pennies at Gowran Park in his last hurdle race and a reproduction of that run would put him bang there. Mind the Pennies has since run a close second to Harvey Logan at Navan so is a reliable yardstick.

Alelchi Inois 1.05pm:

He’s five from five and I hope the ground stays dry overnight. He has the penalties to carry but of the two graded novice chases on the card this could be the easier to win. I’m hopeful he’ll go very close.

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Indevan 1.40pm:

This is a very good races and while Indevan is improving over fences he was only a handicapper as a hurdler. Very Wood is a Grade One winner at Cheltenham and I was impressed with his debut over fences at Galway. Noel Meade’s runner could be very hard to beat.

Hurricane Fly 2.15pm:

There’s not much more I can add to what I said to on the PP Blog earlier in the week except that we’re not going to give Jezki a freebie. With Little King Robin in the field it will be an honest test and I don’t thing the ground will inconvenience either Hurricane Fly or Jezki. Good horses can cope on any ground at this level.

The romantic in me is hoping Hurricane Fly can win but the realist knows it’s going to be hard to beat Jezki.

Hurricane-Fly-slider

Outlander 2.45pm: (non runner)

Brian Cooper rides No More Heroes and he sets the standard but is long odds on now.

Troll D’Oudaires 3.20pm:

Martin Brassil’s charge doesn’t win that often – but does handle testing ground. A sound jumper who travels strongly he’d have a small chance in a modest enough contest where you’d get a different result every time you ran it. Whoever it falls right for on the day will win it.

Bordini 3.55pm:

This is a nice horse who goes well at home. He has a big stride on him and covers a lot of ground. I’ll be hoping he makes up for Masters of Verses defeat on Saturday for Willie and Patrick.

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Greatwood Hurdle, Cheltenham 3.15pm

Vaniteux was third to Vautour and Josses Hill in the Supreme Novices at the Festival. He’s improving but 11-12 is a hell of a lot of weight to lump around in a handicap. If he does it though you’d have to tip your hat to him and he’ll put himself in the frame for the Champion Hurdle.

The others would really have to ‘hose in’ to be considered true Champion Hurdler contenders. But there’s quite a few in this who could improve enough to win it.

Garde La Victoire won here in April and looks high enough in the rating to me but the Hobbs’ team won this before with Menorah and Detroit City before going on to better things.

Clondaw Warrior hasn’t run over hurdles in over a year but gets in here off bottom weight. He won the November Handicap at Leopardstown on the flat on his last start. He improved 40lb on the Flat this season and if he was to improve even a quarter of that over hurdles he’d have a big chance off his low weight. My wife and David Casey’s wife are part owners and I’ll be shouting my head off for him.

Goodwood Mirage has had training problems but the strong pace in this handicap will suit him and it looks like he’s been targeted at this. Won on his reappearance at Wetherby carrying 11-12.

Of all the English runners, I think Baltimore Rock might just be the one to come out on top. He’s plenty of weight on 11-5 but he has solid form in the book. The Imperial Cup winner was fourth to Josses Hill in the Grade 2 at Aintree and may just edge it from Vaniteux getting weight. He also handles the ground well.

Regal Encore was a very good bumper and was fourth in a messy race at Chepstow last time out. He’s never quite hit the heights over hurdles but if it was all to come together for him he could be thrown in on his bumper form and gets weight off some of his main rivals.

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