Willie Mullins could not be happier with Hurricane Fly as his stable star bids to regain his crown in the Stan James Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham on Tuesday.

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A winner of no less than 14 Grade One prizes, the nine-year-old is one of the most prolific two-mile hurdlers of the last decade.

However, he arguably returns to Prestbury Park with something to prove, having suffered a shock odds-on reverse when only third 12 months ago behind the reopposing Rock On Ruby.

Although he has looked as good as ever in winning each of his three starts this season, most recently securing a third victory in January's Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown, many bookmakers have been keen to take on the deposed champion.

While Mullins is never the most outwardly confident of trainers, he appeared in relaxed mood on the eve of the showpiece meeting.

Mullins said: "He travelled well, he's in great form and I'm happy with conditions.

"I haven't even looked at the declarations. I'm just happy with how everything has gone with our horse so far."

Whereas last year Hurricane Fly suffered a truncated campaign, having just one run before Cheltenham due to various training problems, this year his preparation could hardly have been more smooth.

Mullins is hoping that will make a significant difference to which Hurricane Fly turns up.

He said: "He's doing everything right this year so I'm just hoping. I don't think (pace) is a worry for Hurricane Fly.

"He has had three runs under his belt, he has done everything right and bounced back for every run right compared to last year when we just got one run into him before we went over there.

"We're very pleased and hopeful at this point."

Ruby Walsh will be in the saddle aboard Hurricane Fly and he is confident he can silence the doubters.

"Everybody has to have an opinion and create an opinion. My opinion is that I love Hurricane Fly," he said.

"I can't understand why the bookmakers appear to be all out to get him.

"I'm delighted to be riding him - I'd hate to be laying him - and I think he'll take all the beating.

"I love the little horse - I've won a Champion Hurdle on him - and his form has been rock solid.

"He's had a great season and preparation from the word 'go' this year, compared to last year."