Fly scores on dramatic return at Punchestown
Report: Punchestown, Sunday
Dobbins & Madigans @ Punchestown Morgiana Hurdle (Grade 1) 2m, 4yo+
HIGH-CLASS hurdler Hurricane Fly emerged triumphant on his return to action for Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh, but he was arguably fortunate to score as Go Native was travelling powerfully before he fell at the final flight.
The winner, who could manage only third when sent off favourite for last season's Champion Hurdle, made all the running but was under pressure before his main rival, Go Native, crumpled on landing after the last. Thankfully, he looked none the worse for his heavy fall.
Despite featuring only three runners it was a dramatic race. Hurricane Fly looked content as he popped away at the head of affairs while Go Native stalked his every move under a typically cool Paul Carberry.
Walsh began to push away on Hurricane Fly, who was chasing his 12th Grade 1 success, off the bend but he had failed to shake off the attentions of the menacing Go Native, who was a length down and attempting to move upsides over the final obstacle at which he crashed to the ground.
Hurricane Fly was able to coast home alone and well clear of his remaining rival Captain Cee Bee, marking his first start for 205 days with a win.
Mullins said: “We were just a bit worried today with him being fresh and running against two horses that were race fit, but he settled well in front, it worked well and we wouldn’t be afraid to do that with him again. As he grows older he’s getting more relaxed and easier to ride.”
He added: “We were never happy with him last year but he’s a different horse this year.”
William Hill reacted to Hurricane Fly's performance by easing the 2011 Champion Hurdle hero to 6-1 (from 5) for next year's two-mile championship contest, but most firms left him unchanged.
Despite his fall, former Supreme Novices' Hurdle winner Go Native was cut by Coral to 14-1 (from 20) for the Stan James Champion Hurdle next March, although he remains as big as 20-1 in places.