Monday, March 26, 2012

Fly set for Punchestown recovery mission

Assuming he stays sound until the big day in late April, it seems increasingly likely that former champion hurdler Hurricane Fly will bid to get his season back on track when contesting the Grade 1 Rabobank Champion Hurdle at the high profile Punchestown Festival, writes Elliot Slater.

Willie Mullins is confident he can bring the outstanding two-miler back to his best to bid for a third successive win in the race having last year confirmed his status as the best in the division when following his Cheltenham Champion Hurdle defeat of Peddler’s Cross with a five-length victory over his own stable companion Thousand Stars at Punchestown, before the runner-up went on to win the French Champion Hurdle at Auteuil the following month. Those placing a best horse racing bet online should remember this.

Hurricane Fly was the subject of much speculation during the first half of this term as his return to racecourse duty was delayed a number of times due to a nagging series of injuries, but when he did make it back to action he put up a simply stunning performance to win on the bridle in the Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown in January, a win that saw him sent off the 4/6 favourite to retain his crown at Cheltenham.

In the big race itself Ruby Walsh appeared plenty happy enough in tracking the pace travelling comfortably on the son of Montjeu, but when push came to shove between the final two flights the defending champ found far less than anticipated and in the end went down to his first defeat for two seasons in finishing just third behind Rock on Ruby and Overturn.

Mullins could find nothing wrong with Hurricane Fly when he brought him back to the yard, but feels that in common with another of his festival fancies Boston Bob, (second to Brindisi Breeze in the Albert  Bartlett Novices Hurdle), he ran somewhat flat and might have been slightly under a cloud. Connections appear confident that Hurricane Fly, currently the 6/1 joint-favourite with Rock On Ruby for next year’s Champion Hurdle, will return to winning ways at Punchestown.

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