/ Racing

Hurricane Fly regains Champion Hurdle title

Updated: Tuesday, 12 Mar 2013 17:36 | Comments

Hurricane back to his best to win hurdling's biggest prize
Hurricane back to his best to win hurdling's biggest prize

Hurricane Fly regained his crown under Ruby Walsh in the Stan James Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham.

Winner of the race in 2011, but beaten into third when an odds-on favourite 12 months ago, the nine-year-old was well supported prior to the off and sent off the 13-8 favourite.

Supporters of the Willie Mullins-trained gelding would have been worried at halfway as Walsh was already getting lower in the saddle.

But he began to pick up coming down the hill and was in the lead soon after jumping the second-last.

Hurricane Fly jumped the final flight smoothly and dug deep on the run-in to score by two and a half lengths.

Last year's winner Rock On Ruby was second, with Countrywide Flame third.

Walsh said: "I can't say I was overly confident - from the word 'go' he didn't travel as well as he can.

"He's an unbelievably big heart for a small horse."

Hurricane Fly was bidding to become the first horse to regain the Champion Hurdle since Comedy Of Errors in 1975 and although plenty were keen to take him on in the days leading up to the race, the money came for him prior to the off.

This year he arrived at Cheltenham with three runs already under his belt this season, with Mullins insisting he was far happier with his stable star than 12 months ago.

But reminiscent of last year, he appeared to be struggling to go the gallop early on before coming back on the bridle coming down the hill.

Rock On Ruby ran a tremendous race in defeat, having cut out much of the running in first-time blinkers.

Countrywide Flame, last season's Triumph Hurdle hero, similarly ran a stormer for North Yorkshire trainer John Quinn. 

Afterwards, Ruby Walsh said: "He made a mistake or two, but he's as tough as nails.

"I was in front a good two furlongs too soon.

"He pinged the last and I'm glad he got it back to show everyone he's a true champion hurdler."

Mullins added: "We knew he was in good form all year.

"He was wining by far what I thought were the best trials in Ireland and we got luck in running.

"Last year was so disappointing, but since he came back this year he has been much heavier and stronger.

"Ruby has a clock in his head and confidence in this horse as well" - Willie Mullins on Hurricane Fly and Ruby Walsh

"Every gallop he's had, every race he's had, he's bounced back and taken it all in his stride.

"He was so aggressive in the pre-parade ring and he wanted to get on with the job.

"I was a bit worried at halfway. They'd gone such a pace and Ruby must have known that, too.

"Tactically, Ruby has a clock in his head and confidence in this horse as well.

"That was a big plus for this horse as a lot of other guys would maybe have taken the stick out at halfway to keep him with the pace.

"Ruby just stayed where the horse was comfortable.

"He's the champion hurdler again now."

User contributions and/or comments do not, unless specifically stated, represent the views of RTÉ.ie or RTÉ.
Click here for Terms of use
Powered by NewsWhip