Wednesday 22 October 2014

Hurricane Fly can become a legend at Festival

Published 25/01/2014 | 02:30

Ruby Walsh riding Hurricane Fly to win The Rabobank Champion Hurdle at Punchestown racecourse
Ruby Walsh riding Hurricane Fly to win The Rabobank Champion Hurdle at Punchestown racecourse

HURRICANE FLY is becoming the kind of horse they write songs about and any disciples of National Hunt with real romance in their hearts will hope to see the cantankerous old champion go to Cheltenham in March as Champion Hurdle favourite.

For that to happen, he must again see off those brazen, young home pretenders, Our Conor and Jezki, in another Leopardstown shootout tomorrow. The English have declined an invitation to take a swing, keen – presumably – not to have their noses bloodied this side of the Festival.

They're waiting for 'The Fly' to grow old. But that's just not happening.

With two to jump in the Ryanair Hurdle at Christmas, this column considered him a beaten horse until the realisation began to slowly dawn that we were merely witnessing another masterclass in the sublime horsemanship of Ruby Walsh.

And you have to suspect that therein lies the essential problem for all those now looking for his scalp. Firstly, you have a remarkable 10-year-old gelding which looks, implausibly, to be improving. Secondly, he happens to have Ruby in the stirrups.

It must feel like giving Usain Bolt a 10-yard start.

Right now, Tuesday, March 11 is brewing as the Festival's day of days, the Champion Hurdle as its marquee race. If 'The Fly' comes up that hill at the front they may start commissioning the statue.

Irish Independent

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