Irish champion jumps trainer, Willie Mullins, has issued an upbeat bulletin about his star hurdler, Hurricane Fly, who will bid to regain the Stan James Champion Hurdle title he lost last season to Rock on Ruby when returning to Cheltenham on March 12, writes Elliot Slater.
His defeat in last term’s championship contest was the only loss for the gelded son of Montjeu since November 2009, the high-class performer having won a stunning 11 Grade 1 events in the interim.
Sent off an odds-on favourite in the Cheltenham Festival racing odds last March, Ruby Walsh’s mount was never travelling with his usual fluency and could not quicken with Rock On Ruby and the game Overturn from the home turn, eventually going down to a five-and-a-half-length defeat in finishing third to the Paul Nicholls trained winner.
It has been business as usual since then though with Hurricane Fly bouncing back immediately to land his third Rabobank Champion Hurdle at Punchestown in April before running up a further series of three effortless successes at the highest grade this season.
Most recently, he proved far too good for his stable companion and French Champion Hurdle winner, Thousand Stars, coasting to a five-length victory at Leopardstown on January 27 in the BHP Insurance Irish Champion Hurdle in the manner of a horse who seems to be right at the top of his game.
Mullins believes the nine-year-old is as good as ever and is particularly pleased that, unlike last term, he is keeping weight on between races and appears to be in the peak of good health.
Following his Leopardstown win, bookmakers were quick to trim the ante-post odds for Hurricane Fly to a top price of 11/4, as he looks set to go very close in attempting to emulate the great Comedy of Errors, the last horse to regain the Champion Hurdle crown way back in 1975.