©Healy Racing Photos
Ruby Walsh has reaffirmed his intention to ride Hurricane Fly in the Stan James Champion Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival next month.
Walsh had the option of partnering the Paul Nicholls-trained Zarkandar, but will instead pledge his loyalties towards the 2011 Champion hero, who has won his last four starts for Willie Mullins.
"I am definitely going to partner Hurricane Fly in the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham next month," he told the Irish Examiner.
"The alternative was obviously Zarkandar for Paul Nicholls.
"Earlier this week Paul asked me which one of them I intended to ride at the Festival.
"He posed a straight question and I gave him a straight answer - Hurricane Fly.
"It is getting quite close to Cheltenham now and Paul needed certainty."
Meanwhile, Walsh believes the extra distance of the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup could be the making of Sir Des Champs.
The leading rider is likely to partner the Nicholls-trained Silviniaco Conti in the Festival main event, but was particularly impressed by the Hennessy Gold Cup defeat of Flemenstar by Sir Des Champs over three miles.
He said: "I watched the Hennessy at Leopardstown from Newbury and formed the impression that the extra two furlongs of the Gold Cup are made for Sir Des Champs.
"Silviniaco Conti jumped and travelled great at Newbury, but did get tired.
"Paul assures me there will be buckets of improvement to come."