The Ruby Walsh column: Laurina has to improve to be a Champion contender

By Ruby Walsh
Tue 6 Nov 2018

Racing UK ambassador Ruby Walsh is back with his weekly column and provides updates on Douvan, Laurina, Footpad and Faugheen plus reflects on the WKD Hurdle.

I thought Friday’s WKD Hurdle at Down Royal rode a good race and I thought the time of the race was very good in comparison to other two-mile races on the day.

I went a good solid gallop on Sharjah, but Samcro is just a better horse than Sharjah and Bedrock on the day was just a sharper, quicker horse who pulled out behind the two of us under Rachael Blackmore and did Samcro for speed.

I think if Bedrock hadn’t been in the race you’d be saying Samcro’s beaten the Galway Hurdle winner and he’d probably have tightened for the Champion Hurdle.

But the fact Bedrock was there puts a different light on the race. It was a good start from Samcro and I’m sure Gordon Elliott and the O’Learys will think he’ll improve a good bit for the run.

It’s early November. You do have to start somewhere and he’ll improve throughout the year. It’ll be a different ball game for him; I’ve ridden lots of horses in my career who were top dogs as novices but struggled a little bit when they got out into open company.

It is a different game and even on ratings he has to improve a little bit to be a Champion Hurdle horse and he certainly has to improve on what he did on Friday, but he probably will.

I thought Sharjah ran well. He’s probably going to be a difficult horse at this minute in time to place. He’s won the Galway Hurdle off a rating off 146 and he’s now carrying that penalty of 155 and is going to have a lot of weight in the handicaps.

He is probably going to struggle in Graded company, but I’m sure we’ll find races for him.

Douvan news a big blow:

The news about Douvan was disappointing but I suppose they are horses, they’re not machines, you can’t just turn them on and off.

He’s had a bad old run of it. He looked super. Holly Conte who looks after him was delighted with him but, unfortunately, he’s just picked up another niggly injury.

This looks like it’s going to keep him out for a while and it is disappointing but hopefully he’ll be back.

Laurina needs to improve:

Laurina’s working well, I think there’s talk of her maybe starting off in the Ascot Hurdle. I think (owner) Jared Sullivan is keen for her to go down the Champion Hurdle road and that’s the plan for her.

She has a rating of 152, add in the mares’ allowance makes it 159, and she probably has to improve seven or eight pounds to be a live Champion Hurdle contender but that's not unsurmountable.

A bit like Samcro she should improve through the season and hopefully get close enough to Buveur d’Air’s rating to give him a race.

Footpad nearing return:

I don’t know if Footpad will run at Naas on Saturday but it’s a two-mile chase for second-season novices so it’s as good a place as any to have an entry and we will see how he is on Thursday before deciding.

We’re happy with him but I think at this time of year you’ll find that most connections are delighted with their horses. Until you get out on the track and put them into combat, you don’t really know.

All the geese are swans now.

Fences still under consideration for Faugheen:

Ruby cannot wait to get back on board Faugheen
Ruby cannot wait to get back on board Faugheen

I don’t know if Faugheen will have an entry in the Morgiana Hurdle, but it’ll probably be more likely the Hatton’s Grace. Willie is even still contemplating fences with him.

He looks in great order anyway and I can’t wait to get back on his back wherever he goes.

Un De Sceaux in great form:

Un De Sceaux has all his usual enthusiasm. He’s giving Virginie Bascop plenty of hardship every morning but looks in really good order.

I don’t know if he’ll go to the Hilly Way or the Tingle Creek, but I'd imagine he would go for one of those two races.

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