Winning return for Ruby Walsh at Thurles
Ruby Walsh made a successful return from his lengthy spell on the sidelines when steering Lareena to a clear-cut victory at Thurles.
Walsh had been out of action since suffering a broken leg in a fall from Let's Dance at Punchestown on 18 November, but has always maintained he would be back in time for the Cheltenham Festival, where he has been leading rider 11 times.
He had hoped to come back last weekend before the weather intervened and instead made his return just five days before the start of next week's showpiece meeting aboard the Willie Mullins-trained Lareena in the thurles.ie Maiden Hurdle.
Runner-up on her last two starts, the five-year-old was the 11-8 favourite to open her account and travelled well throughout on the heels of the leaders.
Walsh allowed Lareena to stride to the front after jumping the second flight from the finish and although market rival Awayinthewest looked a big threat approaching the last, the favourite was away from it the quicker and kept up the gallop to score by five lengths.