Fry: Rock On Ruby may need new jockey

Trainer Harry Fry admits there is “every possibility” Rock On Ruby will require a new rider in the World Hurdle at Cheltenham on March 12.

Noel Fehily has been ever present in the saddle since Rock On Ruby’s triumph in the 2012 Champion Hurdle, a sequence of 14 consecutive races.

But with Fehily retained by Potensis Bloodstock, part-owners of leading World Hurdle candidate Zarkandar, that run looks set to come to an end.

Fry, however, is in no rush to book a potential replacement.

He said: “Noel is retained to ride Zarkandar and there is every possibility that he won’t be available, but we will cross that bridge when we know the final decision. I’ve had a few text messages about it.

“We’ve got two weeks to go. The horses and jockeys have got to get there first and the plans are fluid.

“We can’t confirm either way who’ll end up riding him at the moment.”

Barry Geraghty thinks Whisper could be a major player in the three-mile feature on day three of the Festival.

Winner of the Coral Cup last year and a Grade One victor on his next outing at Aintree, the Nicky Henderson-trained seven-year-old failed to take to fences at the first attempt on his seasonal bow at Exeter last month.

Closely matched with fellow World Hurdle hope Saphir Du Rheu – a head separated the pair in last season’s Welsh Champion Hurdle – Geraghty thinks he should not be discounted.

He said: “I think he’s set for a good spring and he’s showing plenty of sparkle ahead of the World Hurdle.

“With More Of That out of the race, it has a wide-open look about it and the form of his Grade One win at Aintree is there for all to see.”

Rebecca Curtis has raised the possibility of a change of headgear for At Fishers Cross ahead of his bid to get his season back on track in the World Hurdle.

The eight-year-old is a former Festival winner having landed the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle in 2013 and last year ran a fine race in defeat in the World Hurdle when finishing third behind fellow JP McManus-owned runner More Of That and brilliant mare Annie Power.

He has struggled to replicate that level of form so far this season, most recently failing to fire in the Rendlesham Hurdle at Haydock, but Curtis hopes her charge can bounce back at a track that brings out the best in him and he could be aided by a pair of blinkers.

Curtis said: “I actually thought he jumped well at Haydock and we’re just going to try a couple of new things.

“He seems to like Cheltenham and we’re hoping that we might see a bit of improvement.

“We haven’t decided yet, but we could put some headgear on him. I’ll speak to Frank (Berry, McManus’ racing manager) and see what he thinks.”

Meanwhile, Aurore D’Estruval has been ruled out of the OLBG Mares’ Hurdle after suffering a setback.

More in this section

Sport
Newsletter

Latest news from the world of sport, along with the best in opinion from our outstanding team of sports writers

Sign up
IE_logo_newsletters

Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox