Ruby Walsh has high hopes of French return

Ruby Walsh is hoping to be given the green light to return to the saddle for next weekend's top-class meeting at Auteuil.

The leading rider has been sidelined since breaking his leg for the second time in quick succession when falling from Al Boum Photo in the RSA Insurance Novices' Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.

Having lost his race against time to be fit to ride at the Punchestown Festival, Walsh is now targeting a comeback in France for the Grand Steeple weekend.

Speaking to Paddy Power News, he said: "I have to go back to the surgeon next week to find out how it's progressing. He'll have the final say on whether I can compete in France, which was my aim.

"I've been riding away but it'll depend on what the X-ray throws up.

"I think it's progressing."

The two-day meeting features the Grand Steeplechase de Paris and the French Champion Hurdle - the Grande Course de Haies d'Auteuil.

Whether Walsh is passed fit to ride or not, his boss Willie Mullins is likely to be represented in both of the main events.

Walsh added: "Willie has Yorkhill, Killultagh Vic, Bacardys, Let's Dance and more (in the French Champion Hurdle). As always, Willie is targeting a few at this race. They're all still in full training and gearing up to run.

It's a huge pot and the English and Irish horses have had a good record in the race in recent years. L'Ami Serge won it last year, while Shaneshill finished third. Willie has won it on several occasions, and Paul Nicholls has also won it a couple of times.

Djakadam, last seen finishing second in the Punchestown Gold Cup for a fourth time, could fly the flag for the Closutton team in the Grand Steeplechase de Paris.

"It's over three miles and six furlongs and it will still be difficult enough for him," said Walsh.

"It's a long time since he ran in France so running over the French jumps will be a tough ask, but it's worth having a go.

"His run at Punchestown suggests that he's still bang on form."

- PA

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