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Ruby Walsh column: edging closer to riding return following injury

By Ruby Walsh
Tue 20 Feb 2018

By Ruby Walsh

Things are going well. I’m riding a couple of horses every day and fingers crossed it’ll keep going the way it’s going. I rode out one back at home on Sunday and we’re just tipping along now. It’s slowly slowly; don’t do any damage and see how we go.

There is a buzz about now. Screws are starting to be turned and the pressure is cranking up I suppose. The horses are well and Willie’s [Mullins] happy with them.

Douvan is in good order, he worked this morning, he worked well and he's in great form. Obviously he skipped the weekend - I think Willie felt it was just probably too big an ask on real heavy ground when you want them absolutely prime in three weeks’ time.

Probably in hindsight it wasn’t a bad thing, Presenting Percy and Our Duke had a real ding-dong battle so maybe not doing that was a good thing.

I think Our Duke made a mistake or two, he made a bad mistake at the fourth last but he really ground it out down the straight. I must say watching it live I thought between the last Presenting Percy was going to win and had a bit more to offer but Our Duke pulled it out. I thought it was a great race to watch - Gowran Park got a huge crowd and they got entertained.

The fact that Robbie Power has gone for Sizing John over Our Duke would suggest they’re very happy with Sizing John. I thought he was a good winner last year and he backed it up with some good performances both before and after the Gold Cup. I think there’ll be a big field because a lot of people think it’s a winnable race.

I think the Gold Cup is very competitive. I suppose Might Bite does look the standout horse, he won last year's RSA, he was good at Sandown, won the King George, he probably has the strongest credentials. I thought Native River was very good at Newbury on his comeback and he ran really well in last year’s Gold Cup. He doesn’t have to improve a lot to win it.

Getabird kind of surprised us a bit at Punchestown with the turn of foot he showed. He’s not the greatest work horse in the world, but he’s working as good as he was before Punchestown. Min and Un De Sceaux look great. They’re all in really good form.

It doesn't surprise me that Yanworth is going for the Stayers’ Hurdle. I think he has a great chance and his run in last year’s race in Aintree, when he beat Supasundae, looks rock-solid now.

I’m not surprised they are going back to hurdles with him, he has a great jump in him but he just didn’t do it with any fluency for my money. That said, the Stayers’ is a competitive race and Sam Spinner, for my money, will take a fair bit of beating.

Realistically Sam Spinner is only now once out of handicap company but when he did he was very good. I think the track at Cheltenham will probably suit - Ascot has a stiff climb from Swinley Bottom so he should handle the undulations. If he has a weakness it’s his jumping; he can be very good and he can be a bit clumsy at times. At Cheltenham, with only a couple of flights for the last six or seven furlongs, it plays to the horses that aren’t brilliant jumpers.

Samcro has been very good in everything he’s done. You’d have no doubts about stamina and he showed great pace at Leopardstown. He’s very neat, nimble jumper, he has a great attitude, he's a relaxed horse and you wouldn’t worry about him boiling over, he should be straight-forward to ride. It’s very easy for somebody to call someone else’s horse a banker and not back up their own, but Samcro will be very difficult to beat.

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