Cooldine needs more to topple Kauto Star, says Ruby

RUBY WALSH believes Cooldine has to markedly improve to trouble Kauto Star in next year’s totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup.

The Willie Mullins-trained gelding showed himself to be the best of the staying novice brigade with a 16-length victory in the RSA Chase at last week’s Festival.

“We think he is a horse with a big future but, on official ratings, he is on 161 and Kauto is still on 184,” said Walsh.

“On the book, Cooldine will have to improve to figure next year.

“You can only judge a horse on what he is beating and Cooldine could not have been more impressive.

“When he beat Forpadydeplasterer in the Moriarty at Leopardstown they might have looked to have been going slow, but it is a much stiffer track than a lot of people think it is.

“There is a serious pull from the third-last, which is probably why they always look to be going slower than they are,” he said.

Walsh had wins on two other Mullins’ horses – Quevega in the David Nicholson Mares’ Hurdle and Mikael D’Haguenet in the Ballymore Novice’s Hurdle at Cheltenham.

“Quevega is a good little mare. Her form was rock-solid, she was only a length behind Hurricane Fly in France,” he added.

“She won really well at Punchestown and she’s a very, very talented little mare.

“I don’t know what I’d ride in the Champion Hurdle if they both ran but, I quite like that Mares’ race for her so she doesn’t have to run in the Champion Hurdle.

“Mikael D’Haguenet is a very good horse. When we got there we were a bit worried about the ground because he’d been doing all his racing on soft ground but he handled it.

“He jumped, but he’s always jumped well and has a great turn of foot, it was a good performance.

“It was what we always thought he was capable of, but they still have to go and do it.

“He’s a horse with a really big future.”

Meanwhile, Alan Fleming reports Starluck to be on course for Aintree following his excellent effort in the JCB Triumph Hurdle.

The first-season trainer is targeting the John Smith’s Anniversary 4-Y-O Novices’ Hurdle on April 2 for his stable star.

The gelding may have surrendered his 100% record over timber at Cheltenham but he lost nothing in defeat in finishing seven-lengths fourth to Zaynar in what looked an above-average renewal.

“He’s very well, he ran a blinder. We were really happy with him and it looks like we’re going to Aintree now. The flat track at Liverpool will suit him,” said Fleming.

I think the hill caught him out. I don’t think the course suited him. This horse has got a lot of pace.

“It was a very strong Triumph and Zaynar and Walkon are two of the toughest four-year-olds I’ve seen.

“We always said he’d finish in the first four so it’s a great achievement.”

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