Ruby Walsh: It wouldn’t bother us to go straight to Cheltenham with Laurina

Everyone wants to see the Champion Hurdle second favourite Laurina in a 'proper' race before Cheltenham but Ruby's keeping it on the down low ...


Laurina loved the slow, safe ground at Sandown and did what we hoped she would do and beat her only rival – the 134-rated Sensulano, handily.

She’s a very good mare and is less unexposed than Melon and Sharjah who are also in the Champion Hurdle picture.

Laurina has a similar profile to Annie Power in that both went unbeaten as novices and Annie Power only had the one prep run – at Punchestown – before going on to win the 2016 Champion Hurdle.

I don’t think Laurina’s form is any stronger than Annie Power’s or our other star mare Quevega at this stage, but she’s answered every question she’s been asked so far.

It wouldn’t bother us if she had to go straight to Cheltenham.


Alderbrook won a Champion Hurdle in 1995 on the back of just one run over obstacles that season, having come from the Flat.

Laurina will probably have a few entries before Cheltenham, including the Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopadstown at the start of February. There’s also the Red Mills Hurdle at Gowran Park – but a lot will depend on the ground.

One worry we shouldn’t have is that the Champion Hurdle at the Festival should be run on good to soft ground.

Although I’m sure they’d prefer if it happened naturally rather than having to water it.


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Tornado Flyer was 100 per cent going to post at Naas and jumped the first hurdle well.

However, by the time we got to the second hurdle he backed off and jumped way off it. I couldn’t get him going after that as he just didn’t want to gallop. It was very disappointing to have to pull him up.

If he ran and finished second to Battleoverdoyen you’d at least know how good he was, but we might just have to put a line through that effort.

If he’s fit and well at home over the next few weeks we should see Tornado Flyer again before Cheltenham. Hopefully, that will let us know exactly where we stand.

We’ve still a lot of novices that haven’t run yet due to the dry ground as there’s not a whole lot of form on offer. There’s only nine weeks left to go until Cheltenham and while they can go there without runs – it does muddy the water for everyone.

There’s no substitute that racing brings in terms of fitness and match practice, so hopefully something will give in the next few weeks.

We’ve loads of horses ready to go but there’s nothing we can do about the weather.

The longer it stays dry – the quicker the ground gets.

Naas was quicker than Leopardstown and Punchestown and Fairyhouse could be quicker again this weekend because it’s so mild.

It would nearly take a blanket of snow at this stage to soften the ground up.

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What do you think?