Watch a full replay of Ribble Valley's victory at Carlisle
Ribble Valley booked his ticket for the Betfair Fighting Fifth Hurdle with a smooth success on his comeback at Carlisle.
Nicky Richards has never disguised his admiration for the seven-year-old and reappearing having had a wind operation since meeting with his sole defeat over hurdles, he oozed class.
While only four went to post in the Watch Irish Racing On racingtv.com Intermediate Hurdle, the seven-year-old was giving 6lb to Olly Murphy’s highly-regarded Nickolson but he had no answer as champion jockey Brian Hughes breezed by on the 8-15 favourite.
On jumping the last Hughes just asked Ribble Valley to lengthen and he won by five and a half lengths, setting up a trip to Newcastle on November 28.
Brian Hughes discusses Ribble Valley's success
“That was lovely, he’ll come on a lot for that and Brian said it couldn’t have been nicer,” said Richards.
“He’s been very heavy and took a bit of getting fit, so Brian just asked him to lengthen after the last, he thought he’d give him a blow, there was no point sitting up on him.
“That was only his fourth run over hurdles so he’s very inexperienced. At the start of the season we thought, bearing in mind the level we hope he’s going to get to, he didn’t have enough experience to go chasing.
“So we were thinking of today and if it went well, which it has, he’ll probably go for the Fighting Fifth to get some more experience. Then we’ll take it from there, see how that goes and take it race by race.
“Brian said it was chopped up on the inside today so he kept him wide. Brian thinks some real good to soft ground and a proper gallop would be ideal.
“I just hope it’s not heavy ground come Newcastle as that might spoil the party.”
Protektorat impresses on his chasing debut
Earlier Dan Skelton’s Protektorat (5-4 favourite) had put up a smart round of jumping to win the Introducing Racing TV Beginners’ Chase.
Winning rider Harry Skelton told Racing TV: "He has mentally taken quite a while and I'd say there was still a bit of immaturity there in his tendency to left-handed, but he got into a lovely rhythm. Hopefully down the road, he's going to be a lovely horse and we've just got to get him there.
"We have always thought a lot of him. He was a bit of a nightmare at first, too keen. But we dropped him in last year to try and put some manners on him and hopefully he's going to be a very good horse."
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