Hurricane Fly, hot favourite for the Grade 1 feature
©Healy Racing Photos
Willie Mullins is convinced he has the brilliant Hurricane Fly back to his best after the nine-year-old romped to a third victory in the BHP Insurance Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown.
Ruby Walsh settled in third as Thousand Stars and One Cool Shabra took them along in atrocious weather, and the result was never in doubt once he made his move on the turn for home.< Hurricane Fly (1-6 favourite) stormed clear and after jumping the final flight with a big lead, was eased down to beat stablemate Thousand Stars by five lengths, with Binocular a nose further away in third.
Ex-French Pont Alexandre began his career for Mullins by winning a Grade One race at Navan and if anything he looked even better when landing the Synergy Security Solutions Novice Hurdle.
Walsh set out to make all on the 4-7 favourite and dismissed any lingering opposition when he quickened around the home turn, before passing the post with 11 lengths to spare from Sizing Gold.
Mullins, who went on to a four-timer, suffered two odds-on reverses, though there was a silver lining in the Frank Ward Solicitors Solerina Mares Novice Hurdle when he took the Listed prize with 'wrong one' Glens Melody.
Zuzka was sent off the 2-5 favourite but was struggling some way out and Paul Townend sent Glens Melody (9-2) past Jennies Jewel going to the last before clearing away to win by four and a half lengths.
In the Frank Conroy Memorial Maiden Hurdle, the Jim Culloty-trained Legal Exit (12-1) brushed aside Mullins' 1-2 favourite Urano after the final flight to win by four lengths under Barry Geraghty.
The two chases went ahead after an inspection and Mullins completed his big day when the Walsh-ridden Rupert Lamb (5-2) led all the way and ran on strongly to take the Leopardstown Beginners Chase by four lengths.
Tony McCoy then got Conor O'Dwyer's Competitive Edge (100-30 favourite) up in the last strides to head Quartetto in the Sandyford Handicap Chase.