Rubi Light on track for Ryanair

RUBI LIGHT, third behind dual winner Albertas Run and Kalahari King in the Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham last season, will skip the Gold Cup this year for another crack at the Ryanair after he finished second in the Lexus.

“There is not a bother with Rubi Light after Leopardstown and he is in great form,” said trainer Robbie Hennessy. “He had a week off out in the paddocks after the race to freshen him up.

“At this point he’ll go for the Red Mills as he won that race last year and we’ll keep the plan the same.

“He was third in the Ryanair last year but the only thing is if it was soft I’d be a lot more confident. But it looks like he is a better horse this year and he has grown into himself and seems to have improved.

“If he can improve on last year’s run he has a serious chance.”

Noble Prince, a winner at the Festival as a novice last year, is 5-1 favourite.

His trainer Paul Nolan will give him one more run before he returns to Gloucestershire.

“Hopefully, Noble Prince will run in the Ryanair Chase. He goes for the Normans Grove Chase at Fairyhouse on January 22 and that will be his final run before he heads to Cheltenham,” said Nolan.

“We were very pleased with him at Leopardstown. Big Zeb beat us easily in the end but it was a very good run from our horse and I think that he will improve with a faster pace.

“He’s still a decent enough two-mile chaser but two miles and five furlongs around Cheltenham is right up his street.

“He travelled and jumped well in the Jewson last season. The Ryanair will obviously be a different gravy this time and it looks like it will be a very competitive contest.”

A total of 38 were entered with Albertas Run, Riverside Theatre and Captain Chris other possibles

Ryanair Chase – Paddy Power bet: 5-1 Noble Prince, 6-1 Rubi Light, 7-1 Captain Chris, 8-1 Riverside Theatre, 10-1 Albertas Run, Finian’s Rainbow, 12-1 Kauto Stone, 14- Quel Esprit, Wishfull Thinking, Great Endeavour, 16-1 Kalahari King, Poquelin, Medermit, Realt Dubh, Somersby, 20-1 Blazing Tempo, Champion Court, Gauvain, Woolcombe Folly, 25 bar

Meanwhile, previous winners Sizing Europe and Big Zeb feature among 19 entries for the sportingbet.com Queen Mother Champion Chase at Cheltenham on March 14.

Sizing Europe followed up his Arkle Trophy success of 2010 with a brilliant victory in last season’s Champion Chase and is set to return to Prestbury Park to defend his crown for Henry de Bromhead.

Big Zeb fell in the two-mile speed test in 2009, was victorious 12 months later and was second to Sizing Europe last time around.

Both horses have staked their claim for this season’s renewal with Grade One victories already in the bag.

Donald McCain has entered his stable star Peddlers Cross purely as a precaution.

The pick of the British challengers is the Nicky Henderson-trained Finian’s Rainbow, winner of the Desert Orchid Chase at Kempton over Christmas and also entered in the Gold Cup.

Henderson will be bidding for his first victory in the race since Remittance Man struck gold in 1992.

Champion trainer Paul Nicholls has landed the prestigious prize with Call Equiname (1999), Azertyuiop (2004) and Master Minded twice (2008 and 2009).

Nicholls has Al Ferof, exciting Sandown winner Hold Fast and Kauto Stone among his team.

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