"We're looking for the next superstar and it could be her" - Ruby Walsh
Walsh has spoken. Listen up and listen again.
Paddy Power racing ambassador Ruby Walsh has shared his views on the top hurdlers in the Willie Mullins camp that are primed and ready to pounce this season.
The top jockey also pin points which of Rich Ricci’s horses could put the colourful racehorse owner back on top, after a number of his most promising prospects failed to fire of late.
Speaking about the horse he believes could be their secret weapon this season, Walsh hints that they may have the next Quevega or Annie Power hiding in plain sight.
He told Paddy Power News that Laurina, who was unbeaten last season, is the one to watch:
"She has summered really well and she looks a picture," he said.
"Whether she will be trained as a Champion Hurdle mare (10/1) or a Mares Hurdle mare (4/1), only time will tell.
“She looked our best novice last year but has to step up to open company now. She has got big boots to fill, but you'd be hoping that she's be up there with the best mares we've had in the past.
"You're looking for the next superstar and you're hoping it could be her."
He expects Melon to be prepped for the Morgiana Hurdle, a patient approach with Penhill in the run up to Cheltenham and he is hopeful Yorkhill can rediscover his spark in the coming months.
“He has a huge engine in there somewhere and things can't go any worse than they did last year."
But what about ‘The Machine’?
According to Ruby, two-time Cheltenham winner Faugheen bounced back at the Punchestown festival in April and he's looking as well as ever. But he suggests one of the most popular racehorses with punters may have lost a little pep in his step.
"Faugheen is in terrific order and his two performances in Punchestown last season were outstanding," he added.
"Like most animals and humans, he's probably got a fraction slower. He looks 100% and maybe something like the Hatton's Grace will be a possible starting point. He also has the option of going chasing so that will be an interesting conversation when it happens."
Rich Ricci has had a couple of mixed seasons but Benie Des Dieux could be the star of the show for him over the coming months.
"Benie Des Dieux can mix it between hurdles and fences and she was great when winning the Mares Hurdle having not run over hurdles for so long. She went to Punchestown and sluiced up and she's an outstanding mare. She's summered really well and every door is open for her. She's proved herself at Grade 1 level over hurdles already and she's hugely exciting,"
Of last season's juvenile hurdlers, there’s another a dark horse lurking amongst the ranks that could come to the fore in the Champion Hurdle next March, with Ruby adding that he thinks it could be Saldier.
“He's the biggest and strongest of those horses from last season and he was very good in Punchestown for Robbie Power."