Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Hurricane Blows Away Hurdle Rivals

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Hurricane Blows Away Hurdle Rivals

Article excerpt

RUBY Walsh believes Hurricane Fly is back to the sort of form he was in two years ago after he partnered Willie Mullins' charge to a third successive BHP Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown yesterday.

Never off the bridle in recording his 14th Grade One in all, he is now outright favourite to regain his championship title at Cheltenham.

Stablemate Thousand Stars and Paul Townend made it a decent gallop in atrocious conditions but, when Walsh made his move rounding the home turn, the result was never in doubt.

Binocular travelled well for a long way but Tony McCoy's mount was soon left in Hurricane Fly's wake and Nicky Henderson's 2010 champion just failed to get past Thousand Stars for second.

Hurricane Fly (1-6 favourite) won by five lengths.

Walsh said: "I thought it was a very good performance.

"It was a good even gallop, he travelled well, he jumped well and he moved away effortlessly from Paul's horse (Thousand Stars).

"I thought AP (McCoy) might follow me on Binocular but he was a bit keen early on and probably didn't help himself.

"In fairness to Binocular, he hadn't run for so long so he was bound to be a bit fresh the way he ran. We had fitness on our side and we were going to use it.

"This year he's had a longer and deeper preparation. He's probably a fitter horse than he was last year.

"Hopefully, that will stand him in good stead in March.

"All the Champion Hurdle trials in England are in the next fortnight and we will know a lot more then."

Mullins has been much happier with Hurricane Fly this season and is looking forward to Cheltenham, where he could finish only third last year.

He said: "He's well used to these conditions and he flies through that ground so everything went according to plan.

Mullins and Walsh were also on the mark with Pont Alexandre, who now finds himself as outright favourite for the Neptune at Cheltenham after an easy win in the Synergy Security Solutions Novice Hurdle.

Mullins added: "I'm looking forward to going to Cheltenham with him but what I'm really looking forward to is sending him over fences.

"Ballycasey (the winner's stablemate) looks like he might go for the Albert Bartlett and while Pont Alexandre seems to have plenty of speed and will go for the Neptune."

On Saturday, Benefficient was a shock winner of a Grade One race for the second time in his career when taking a dramatic Frank Ward Solicitors Arkle Novice Chase at Leopardstown.

A 50-1 chance when landing the Deloitte Novice Hurdle last winter, this time Tony Martin's charge made the most of a fall at the fourth fence of hot favourite Arvika Ligeonniere and had just headed Oscars Well when he made a hash of the last. That left Benefficient, the 10-1 outsider of the three, to come home 20 lengths clear under Bryan Cooper. …

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