Hurricane Fly made it 18 Grade 1 wins at Leopardstown this afternoon
Images reproduced with the kind permission of Willie Mullins
The talk for several months has been about a new generation of Champion Hurdle contenders, set to wrench Hurricane Fly’s champion crown. The reigning Champion Hurdler winner didn’t know that.
Instead, on Sunday, Leopardstown’s crowd was treated to a vintage display from Hurricane Fly, who attacked his hurdles and showed all his determination and aggression to stamp his authority on the Ryanair Hurdle.
He won fair and square, passing both Jezki and Our Conor before quickening away after sealing victory with a quick, fluid jump at the final flight.
Thousand Stars had set off in front but when the grey slowed the pace down, Captain Cee Bee rushed by and into a wide margin lead. In behind, the other four runners were happy to bide their time, closing on the leader by the second from home, at which point Thousand Stars had run his race.
As they came to the final flight, Jezki was momentarily short of room, held in behind Our Conor (who made a small error at one of his flights) and the tiring Captain Cee Bee. Meanwhile, a text book ride on Hurricane Fly meant that Ruby Walsh had all options covered on the outside as he cruised up to take the lead effortlessly before clearing away.
Jezki battled on one-paced for second but was not going to catch Hurricane Fly, while Our Conor flattened out a one-paced third although he is open to improvement as this was his comeback from injury.
If Hurricane Fly – a horse with a better record than Istabraq – and a world record 18 Grade 1 victories to his name now, remains in this form, there is no reason why he shouldn’t go on from this win to Cheltenham, where the hill plays to his strengths.
Jezki proved last March that there is little between him and My Tent Or Yours and there seems little between the latter horse and The New One on Kempton running. So that should put Hurricane Fly top of the pile, with possible improvement to come.
Hurricane Fly has received so much undue criticism, virtually all of which has been invalid and proven wrong time and again. He is a treasure and should be enjoyed for the champion he is. Maybe, just maybe, if he can win a third Champion Hurdle aged 10, even the doubters might give him the credit he fully deserves.