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Paul Townend aboard Hurricane Fly

Paul Townend: may partner Hurricane Fly at Cheltenham Festival

  PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)  

Townend thrilled at prospect of Fly ride

PAUL TOWNEND, the man waiting on the best spare ride in racing, says it would be extra special if Ruby Walsh picked Faugheen over Hurricane Fly in the Stan James Champion Hurdle, leaving the way clear for him to partner the dual champion on whom he has already won six Grade 1 races.

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The question on everybody's lips after Hurricane Fly surpassed the mighty Istabraq at Leopardstown last Sunday by winning his fifth Irish Champion Hurdle was Walsh's choice of ride at Cheltenham, and Paddy Power make him 1-10 to pick Faugheen (5-1 Hurricane Fly), a decision Townend would be delighted with.

"Obviously they both have to get there in one piece but, if they do, it's a lovely position to be in," he said. "Given I ride out Hurricane Fly and won my first Grade 1 on him it would be extra special if I got to ride him in a Champion Hurdle and it would be something I've always wanted to do.

"I owe Hurricane Fly a lot more than he owes me. He's been brilliant for my career. The Royal Bond in 2008 at Fairyhouse was my first ride in a Grade 1 and he won it so he's given me some wonderful memories. He's a horse of a lifetime."

If Walsh stays loyal to Hurricane Fly, who he has ridden in his last 18 races, Townend would not be too disheartened. He said: "I suppose you would say Hurricane Fly is the horse who's been there and done it whereas Faugheen is the up-and-coming one. He's the most exciting young horse coming through and he's looked awesome in all his starts. I haven't ridden him in public yet but I've ridden him loads at home. Whatever Ruby decides to do, I'll be pretty happy either way."

 
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