Sunday 11 December 2016

Champion trio set for rematch

Published 15/04/2015 | 16:46

Ruby Walsh celebrates his victory on Faugheen in the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham
Ruby Walsh celebrates his victory on Faugheen in the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham

Stablemates Faugheen, Arctic Fire and Hurricane Fly are set for a rematch in the Queally Group Celebrating 35 Years in Naas Punchestown Champion Hurdle.

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Willie Mullins' runners dominated the finish in the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham Festival, with Faugheen beating Arctic Fire by a length and a half with the 22-times Grade One winner Hurricane Fly a further five lengths back in third.

Both Faugheen and Hurricane Fly have not run since while Arctic Fire turned out at Aintree last week, coming to grief at the final flight when leading in the Aintree Hurdle.

Mullins reports him to be none the worse for the fall and has warned racegoers not to forget the claims of Hurricane Fly either, as the 11-year-old has won this race four times in the past.

"Our first three home in the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham - Faugheen, Arctic Fire and Hurricane Fly - definitely look likely to line up again in the Punchestown Champion Hurdle," said Mullins.

"Arctic Fire doesn't seem any the worse for his Aintree fall - it was a tough fall - but he's eaten up and everything and was out on Monday morning for the first time since doing some light exercise.

"Punchestown is nearly Hurricane Fly's second home, he looks great but will have it all to do against Faugheen. I'm a huge Hurricane Fly fan so hope he might get his revenge against Faugheen but we'll see what happens."

Hurricane Fly has also been given an entry in the Ladbrokes World Series Hurdle but Mullins has other options in that.

"In the Ladbrokes World Series Hurdle, Thousand Stars and Zaidpour look the likely candidates, it's really the race for them," added Mullins.

"Arctic Fire is unlikely to go over three miles whilst Annie Power and Hurricane Fly have been put in there but have other options."

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