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Dublin: 11 °C Thursday 17 October, 2019
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Ruby delighted to be back racing as Cheltenham looms on the horizon

Ruby Walsh is set for make his racing return on Friday after a four-month injury lay-off.

Image: ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

WITH THIS YEAR’S Cheltenham Festival just over two weeks away, jockey Ruby Walsh is set to return to the racecourse on Friday afternoon.

The Kildare man has been out of action since breaking his leg during a particularly bad fall at Down Royal on 6 November. After his leg brace was removed two weeks ago, Walsh started riding out again and he is now ready to make his return for Friday’s card at Newbury.

Provided he comes through his return unscathed, he is expected to partner Grand National entry Niche Market in the Greatwood Gold Cup on Saturday afternoon.

Walsh spoke to the Daily Telegraph after a morning work-out at Paul Nicholls’ yard yesterday, beaming “I can’t wait to get back.”

I feel grand, 100 per cent. I feel no effects from the injury since I have come back to work and we have decided that I will be back riding at Newbury on Friday.

Cheltenham

Two weeks ago, Walsh identified Saturday 5 March as the latest possible date for his return if he was to be ready for Cheltenham. He has been the festival’s leading jockey for the last three years, with bookmakers installing him as the 5/4 favourite to retain the title for a fourth successive year.

Walsh’s chances are certainly enhanced by the fact that he has been pencilled in for a number of high-profile rides over the course of the four days.

He will certainly renew his partnership with Paul Nicholls’ Big Bucks as the eight-year-old aims for a third successive victory in the World Hurdle. Last week, Irish bookmaker Boylesports decided to pay out on the odds-on favourite at a cost of €295,000 to the firm.

Walsh will also ride two other stars from Nicholls’ stable – Master Minded and Kauto Star – in the festival’s two feature chases, the Queen Mother Champion Chase and the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

However, the jockey’s ride for the 2m Champion Hurdle remains undecided as yet. Given the choice, he would almost certainly opt to ride Willie Mullins’ Hurricane Fly who has impressed this season in winning the Hatton’s Grace Hurdle, the Paddy Power Festival Hurdle and the Irish Champion Hurdle.

However, Mullins’ other stable jockey Paul Townend has a long partnership with the powerful seven-year-old and it will be up to the horse’s connections to decide who ultimately gets the nod in the showpiece on the festival’s opening day.

Read more in JA McGrath’s piece in today’s Daily Telegraph >

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Niall Kelly

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