Hurricane Fly out to join hurdle greats
HURRICANE FLY, the world record holder in terms of Grade 1 or Group 1 victories, will attempt to surpass his previous achievements today by joining the select band of hurdlers who have won the Stan James Champion Hurdle three times.
His trainer Willie Mullins reports that “all the signs are positive” for a memorable triumph, before adding a note of caution by suggesting this year’s race is probably the biggest test of Hurricane Fly’s career.
“He travelled over well and is in really good form,” Mullins said. “We’re happy with him and Ruby [Walsh] reported him in good shape when he sat on him at the track yesterday morning.
“We’re mindful he faces probably the biggest test in his career, but he’s been an absolute star, winning 19 Grade 1s, and sets the standard against the pretenders aiming to wrest the title from him.”
Hatton’s Grace (1949-1951) was the first of five three-time winners of the race and Istabraq, who completed his hat-trick in 2000, the most recent. Hurricane Fly goes into today’s showdown with a slightly different profile having lost the title in 2012 before regaining the crown a year ago.
At Punchestown in November he set a record by landing his 17th Grade 1 win. Two more have followed but today, as a ten-year-old, he faces a stern test against a band of young pretenders including compatriots Our Conor and Jezki – a duo he has twice beaten at Leopardstown this season – and the British-trained pair The New One and My Tent Or Yours.
Hurricane Fly, The New One and My Tent Or Yours are locked at the head of the Champion Hurdle betting with each contender available to back at 7-2.
Cheltenham Festival stats
Champagne Fever is attempting to win at the Cheltenham festival for the third season running in the Racing Post Arkle (2.05)
Time For Rupert (2.40) boasts course form figures of 12211545
Barry Geraghty is unbeaten in four starts when riding Jezki. He partners the hurdler for the first time this season in the Stan James Champion Hurdle (3.20)
Since 2011, chasers rated 146-plus are achieving finishing positions of 14112 in the Terry Biddlecombe National Hunt Chase (4.40). Shotgun Paddy and Shutthefrontdoor fit the bill