Trainer Harry Fry has announced that the 2012 Champion Hurdler, Rock On Ruby, is set to make his seasonal debut at the International Meeting back at Cheltenham next month. The news comes after it was decided the horse would miss the weekend's Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle due to the likely heavy ground conditions. Connections were loathed to test the horse in such poor conditions on his first start since running at Aintree in April with all roads leading to a return Champion Hurdle bid at the Festival in March. The International Hurdle now looks the likely aim for the horse according to first season trainer Harry Fry who is only too aware of the importance of the horse to his fledgling stable. It will be a tough test for Rock On Ruby for his first start but we know he loves Cheltenham and a good run next month would surely set him on the right path for the Champion Hurdle later in the season.
The International Hurdle is often considered one of the key trial races for the Champion Hurdle and the addition of Rock On Ruby to the field adds some extra spice. The race is run over the same course and distance as the big Cheltenham Festival race and Festival ante post punters will be watching very closely indeed. Rock On Ruby is likely to face the hugely exciting Grandouet who won this race last year before picking up an injury which denied him the chance of taking his chance at the Festival. It is worth noting that Grandouet beat Overturn into second that day and we all remember Overturn chasing home Rock On Ruby in the Champion Hurdle proving just how close this race could be. Another potential opponent for Rock On Ruby at the International Meeting is Zarkandar who came in fifth in the Champion Hurdle last season and seems to be on the upward curve as he showed first time out when he won the Elite Hurdle at Wincanton. In truth though most eyes will be on Rock On Ruby who will be looking to prove that his Champion Hurdle success was no fluke and a good run at the International Meeting will see his Festival price slashed.