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Cheltenham: Ruby Walsh fit for Festival

With five days to go until the Cheltenham Festival, Ruby Walsh — favourite to retain his jockeys' title at the meeting — is still looking for his first winner since his comeback from injury six days ago.

Yesterday at Naas he escaped with a cut near his left eye after a crashing fall, but was stood down for the rest of the afternoon. He will next be in action at Sandown on Saturday, with two mounts booked for Paul Nicholls.

Walsh was out for four months after suffering a double fracture of his right leg in a fall at the Down Royal Festival in November.

There was a superb win for Ballyclare owner-trainer Harry Smyth at Naas, his 7-1 shot Cantrell taking victory in the Hen & Stag Parties Handicap Hurdle.

The latest Cheltenham Festival non-combatant, meanwhile, is Planet Of Sound who had been a lively Gold Cup outsider at 28-1 but has picked up an infection in a hind leg. “He was putting a bit of weight on it today,” said trainer Philip Hobbs yesterday. “But I'm 95 per cent certain he won't get to Cheltenham.”

Tony McCoy moved to within two of his double century of winners for the season with a 20-1 double at Fontwell yesterday.

The Ulsterman rode Rapid Increase and I Can Run Can You to victory for Jonjo O’Neill.

Fergal Lynch's bid to regain his jockey's licence has been refused by a licensing committee of the British Horseracing Authority.

The committee rejected his application as they felt he was not a suitable, or “fit and proper”, person. Their concerns arose from the breaches of the rules of racing he committed in 2004, his failure to be candid at a previous licensing hearing in December, and his failure to admit his misconduct until June 2009.

The BHA also had doubts about the way Lynch, 32, was seeking a British licence in order to enable him to ride in the USA where his brother Cathal is a trainer in Pennsylvania.

Lynch moved to the US in 2008, but in July 2009 his licence was withdrawn at Philadelphia Park where he had been leading rider.

That decision followed a long-running BHA disciplinary inquiry at which Lynch admitted stopping a horse, supplying inside information about six of his rides, and associating with the disqualified Miles Rodgers. Lynch subsequently agreed not to ride in the US until he had secured clearance in Britain, and last January paid the £50,000 fine he had accepted as part of his plea agreement with the BHA.

Godolphin have a typically strong hand moving into the final round of the Dubai International Racing Carnival today.

This is the last meeting at Meydan until the World Cup on March 26 and the feature event is the Group Two Zabeel Mile.

Sheikh Mohammed's Godolphin team have Invisible Man, Caymans and Rileyskeepingfaith in this turf event, with the first two representing principal trainer Saeed bin Suroor. Last year's Royal Hunt Cup winner Invisible Man (Frankie Dettori) must surely improve from his ninth-place finish in a similar event on February 17.

Belfast Telegraph


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