Rubi given amber light for Gold Cup challenge

 

Five years have now passed since the days when the Celtic tiger roared home an Irish one-two in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, courtesy of War Of Attrition and Hedgehunter. Since then the challenge from across the water has yielded only disappointment but this term, the champion Long Run apart, the home defence looks shaky. And yesterday at Punchestown the upwardly mobile six-year-old Rubi Light, trained by Co Meath-based Robbie Hennessy, at least drew off a gauntlet, even if it is yet to be thrown down.

Rubi Light had confirmed his exciting potential by rounding off his first campaign over fences with a fine third place in the Ryanair Chase in March. When he resumed at Gowran Park in October, he had the two-mile champion Sizing Europe, no less, trailing in his wake when he crashed out at the last. Yesterday, though, his jumping for Andrew Lynch was immaculate as he notched his first Grade One success in the John Durkan Memorial Chase.

After keeping company with Cooldine until halfway in the two-and-a-half-miler, Lynch pressed on and, in testing underfoot conditions that suited his mount, soon had his rivals – albeit a selection of exposed types – under pressure. Though understandably tiring in the closing stages, he stayed on stoutly to repel Joncol by five lengths.

Sadly, the contest claimed the life of the dual Grade One winner Kempes, fatally injured in a fall five out and his stablemate Golden Silver's Hilly Way Chase hat-trick win at Cork a few minutes earlier will have been only cold comfort to the Willie Mullins team.

Rubi Light's next assignment is likely to be a step up to three miles in the Lexus Chase at Leopardstown at the end of the month. "He was a sick horse after Gowran," said Hennessy, "and though he's been working brilliantly in the last couple of weeks he'll definitely be better for this run.

"The next day will be something to look forward to. It would be great to think we might have a Gold Cup horse, and the Lexus should tell us whether we have one." At this stage bookmakers think not; Rubi Light is as short as 10-1 for the Ryanair Chase but can be backed at 25-1 for the Gold Cup.

One who is going to miss the post-Christmas racing is Robert Thornton, who faces a spell on the sidelines after breaking his upper right arm at Hereford yesterday in a fall from Western Whisky, his only ride of the day.

Early yesterday morning at Sha Tin, on the last major payday of the international Flat season, last month's Melbourne Cup winner Dunaden – trained by Mikel Delzangles in France, ridden by Australian Craig Williams and owned by Qatari prince Sheikh Fahad al-Thani – added the Hong Kong Vase to his globetrotting haul.

Williams had missed the Melbourne Cup through suspension and was skulking in the dark of a movie theatre when his country's most famous contest was run. Yesterday he was back in the spotlight, though, with a perfectly judged three-quarters of a length victory from the local veteran Thumbs Up. "He produced so much when I asked him to lift," said Williams of the five-year-old. "The hairs were standing on the back of my neck some way before the line."

Two of Britain's raiders at the meeting went gallantly close. Ed Dunlop's Red Cadeaux, beaten a whisker by Dunedin at Flemington, came home strongly to share third with another French raider, Silver Pond, in the Vase and Roger Charlton's Cityscape, compromised by a wide draw, failed by just a neck to catch Able One for the near £1m first prize in the Mile.

Turf Account

Chris McGrath's Nap Cotton Mill (3.30 Fakenham)

His small, well-connected yard has a collection of Flat recruits and this stoutly bred one was impressive in winning on his hurdling debut.

 

Next Best Amuse Me (1.30 Fakenham)

Up 5lb after bouncing back to form at Leicester last month, but may still have something in hand.

 

One to Watch A bad error three out knocked Salut Flo (David Pipe) out of contention in Saturday's big handicap chase at Cheltenham, but he surely has the talent to land a similar contest.

 

Where the money's going Grandouet has jumped to second favourite – generally 6-1 – for the Champion Hurdle with his clear-cut victory at Cheltenham on Saturday.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Bathroom Showroom Customer Service / Sales Assistant

£14560 - £17680 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Even though their premises have...

Recruitment Genius: Finance Manager

£44000 - £48000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Marketing company based in cent...

Recruitment Genius: IT Installation / Commissioning Engineer - North West

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An IT Installation / Commission...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive - OTE £25,000

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will maximise the effective...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence