Hurricane Fly and Ruby Walsh are clear over the last
©Healy Racing Photos
By Thomas Weekes
Hurricane Fly completed a hat-trick of wins in the Irish Champion Hurdle wins at Leopardstown today, readily defying atrocious weather conditions at the Dublin venue to win the BHP Insurance sponsored event for trainer Willie Mullins and jockey Ruby Walsh.
Mullins, who recorded a four-timer on the day with Glens Melody, Pont Alexandre and Rupert Lamb successful elsewhere on the eight-race card, also supplied the runner-up in Thousand Stars.
The gallant grey proved no match (for the ninth occasion) forHurricane Fly (1/6f) but did hold the challenge Binocular, by a nose, for second spot.
The race was run in the middle of a very blustery snow and sleet shower and Hurricane Fly, who had tracked the leaders in third place, moved clear of his four rivals entering the straight and eventually recorded an eased down five lengths win.
The win was Hurricane Fly's 14th Grade 1 hurdle win and the nine year old now possesses a record a Boxing Champion would be proud of, winning 16 of his 19 'bouts' over hurdles.
Mullins later stated “Ruby said he's as good as he ever saw him. He gave him a squeeze turning off the last bend and he said it was just like he 'jumped in'. He took off like he was on summer ground and I just hope to keep him in that form over the next six or seven weeks.
“I've had faith in him all year and he seems to be in the sort of form he was two years ago.”
Regarding runner-up Thousand Stars, Mullins stated “he ran a cracker and is coming back to himself – we may keep him for the Aintree Hurdle. They've brought that race back to Thursday this year so the gap between it and Cheltenham is that bit tighter.”
The sponsors makeHurricane Fly 11/4 (from 7/2) for the Stan James Champion Hurdle. Stan James also go 4/1 Darlan, 7/1 Grandouet, Zarkandar, 8/1 Rock On Ruby, 16/1 Countrywide Flame, 20/1 (no change) Binocular.
Boylesports cutHurricane Fly into 11/4 (from 7/2) while Paddy Power go 3/1, from 7/2.
Additional reporting by Alan Magee