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A change of heart sees Ruby Walsh return

By Richard Forristal

Despite announcing earlier in the week that he would not ride at Wetherby this afternoon, Ruby Walsh is to partner Paul Nicholls' Fistral Beach in the day's featured chase at the Yorkshire venue.

Having picked up a five-day whip ban — pending an appeal next week — at Aintree last Saturday which rules him out of next weekend’s Champion Chase at the Down Royal Festival, Walsh vowed to reduce the number of days that he rides in Britain.

His stance cost him a winner for Nicholls at Chepstow on Tuesday, and the champion trainer is sure to have had a hand in his stable jockey's change of heart.

Speaking yesterday ahead of Wetherby's Charlie Hall Chase on Saturday, Nicholls said: “Ruby wants to ride in the big races, of course he does, and this is a big race and there are big races on Saturday. He is also likely to be at Exeter on Tuesday for the Haldon Gold Cup, which is an important race and where I run Ghizao.”

However, the whip saga continues unabated.

Paul McMahon, an Irish owner and amateur rider, was referred to the British Horseracing Authority's London headquarters after winning on Clondaw Warrior at Cheltenham two weeks ago and handed a 21-day ban yesterday after he was found to have struck his mount 17 times.

Clondaw Warrior's trainer ‘Shark' Hanlon, whose conditional jockey Brian Hayes got an 11-day ban at Chepstow on Tuesday, condemned the authorities.

“I think it's a very sorry state for English racing to be in,” he said. “And it's the people on top that are making it that way.”

Nicky Henderson, who yesterday confirmed that his stunning Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Long Run will reappear at Haydock on November 19, also expressed his concern on the matter.

Barry Geraghty commutes regularly from the Republic to ride for Henderson. “I foresee so many suspensions it's going to become a nightmare,” he said.

Andrew Lynch was partially successful in his appeal against a seven-day whip ban that he received at Cork recently when the Turf Club appeals body yesterday cut three days off the sanction, while a referrals committee stripped Leah's Dream of her September bumper win at Listowel.

The mare tested positive for a banned substance — her trainer Pat Hayes was fined €1,000 as well as €300 in costs.

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