It's Ruby Tuesday in Champion

It's Ruby Tuesday in Champion

Rock On Ruby ran out a most impressive winner of the Stan James Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham under Noel Fehily.

With Overturn adopting his customary front-running tactics, Fehily sat closest to him on Paul Nicholls-trained 11-1 shot Rock On Ruby.

The two opened up a gap on the rest of the field heading down the hill and all of a sudden, those in behind were struggling to bridge the gap.

Last year’s winner and hot favourite Hurricane Fly came out of the pack to try and challenge, but he was never getting there and Rock On Ruby stayed on best up the hill to beat Overturn by three and three-quarter lengths.

Hurricane Fly was only third.

While odds-on favourite Hurricane Fly could be spotted travelling strongly under Ruby Walsh in the middle part of the race, the jockey had gone for his whip long before the turn for home.

The first two dominated the race from start to finish and of the pair, it was Fehily who had most up his sleeve and in the end his mount was a decisive winner to give Nicholls his first Champion Hurdle victor.

Binocular, winner of the race in 2010, tracked Hurricane Fly for most of the race having been held up at the back of the field.

He, too, made late ground to finish fourth, but as with the majority of the field, it was all too late.

Fehily said: ``I went down and schooled him earlier in the week and he felt amazing.

“I was told not to worry about sending him on but I was worried going to the last as he was pulling up a little bit, but he picked up again afterwards.

“The ground probably suited him a little bit today, he was very well on the day.”

Nicholls, who saddled four of the runners, said: ``It's just testament to the whole team. It's a really tremendous effort and everyone is going to be thrilled.

“I didn’t like the way Zarkandar looked in the paddock. He was a bit shelly and a bit light.

“This horse is a seven-year-old, he’s the right age, and it’s brilliant.

“It was a great ride by Noel. He’s a good man and has got a great winner. This is awesome.”

Assistant trainer Harry Fry, who effectively looks after the training of Rock On Ruby in Nicholls' satellite yard, said: ``I'm speechless. This is what you dream of.

“It’s great to be part of the team. With Richard (Barber) and Paul, you wouldn’t ask for better.

“They’ve given me the chance and the opportunity.

“We wanted to win. We didn’t come here to finish second best. We were here to win and he’s come and done it.

“I didn’t think he’d win that well. It’s a brilliant day.”

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