Rock On Ruby upsets the odds to secure Champion Hurdle title

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The Hurricane Fly bubble was burst when the Paul Nicholls-trained Rock On Ruby won the Stan James Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham on Tuesday.

And there was no fluke about the result, with Noel Fehily on the 11/1 chance always tracking long-time leader Overturn before kicking for home turning into the straight.

Rock On Ruby held a clear lead between the final two flights but Overturn, Hurricane Fly and Binocular briefly threatened to challenge going to the last.

However, the eventual winner had plenty in the locker to hold off the rallying Overturn (20/1) by three and threequarter lengths, with the well-backed 4/6 favourite Hurricane Fly only third.

Ruby Walsh rode last year’s winner with plenty of confidence but didn’t look happy at the top of the hill and could never quite get on terms with the front pair.

Former winner Binocular tracked Hurricane Fly all the way under Tony McCoy but a mistake at the last put paid to any chance he may have had and finished fourth.

“I went down and schooled him earlier in the week and he felt amazing,” said the winning jockey.

“I was told not to worry about sending him on but I was worried going to the last as he was pulling up a little bit, but he picked up again afterwards.

“The ground probably suited him a little bit today, he was very well on the day.”

Nicholls, who saddled four of the 10 runners, said: “It’s just testament to the whole team. It’s a really tremendous effort and everyone is going to be thrilled.

“This horse is a seven-year-old, he’s the right age, and it’s brilliant. It was a great ride by Noel. He’s a good man and has got a great winner. This is awesome.

“I didn’t like the way Zarkandar looked in the paddock. He was a bit shelly and a bit light.”

Assistant trainer Harry Fry, who effectively looks after the training of Rock On Ruby in Nicholls’ satellite yard, said: “I’m speechless. This is what you dream of.

“It’s great to be part of the team. With Richard (Barber) and Paul, you wouldn’t ask for better. They’ve given me the chance and the opportunity.

“We wanted to win. We didn’t come here to finish second best. We were here to win and he’s come and done it.

“I didn’t think he’d win that well. It’s a brilliant day.”

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