mullins' fingers crossed over fly's fitness for punchestown
Willie Mullins is working hard to get his star hurdler Hurricane Fly back to peak fitness in time for Punchestown next month, WRITES THOMAS KELLY.
The six-year-old has always been held in the highest regard by the champion trainer and three Grade One victories as a novice last season suggested he was destined for the top. After being beaten at odds-on at Punchestown back in November, he was found to have been suffering from a suspensory ligament injury which subsequently ruled him out of Cheltenham.
"Hurricane Fly has responded well to the treatment for his injury," Mullins said. "He looks good and strong, is back on the gallop and we'll have a go at getting him ready for the Punchestown Festival now.
"His injury is fine, but whether we have enough time to get him to Punchestown is another thing. That will be a big ask. He has done lots of prep work, but it won't be until I get the first few bits of fast work into him -- which will be late in the day -- that we know exactly what chance we have of getting him there.
"I'm happy that he is ready to be cantering away, and Punchestown is a track that he loves, so it would be great to get him there."
Mullins admits his exciting prospect Mikael D'Haguenet is unlikely to be seen in racecourse action before the end of the season.
The six-year-old was successful at Cheltenham and Punchestown in 2009 but his comeback has been delayed a number of times due to minor injury. "Mikael D'Haguenet is just being rested for now, having been stiff and sore after his last schooling session before Cheltenham," Mullins explained.
"I'm going to have a good look at him this week. At this stage, I imagine we'll probably just try to get him ready for next season."
Mullins' stable jockey Ruby Walsh was on the mark for Paul Nicholls at Newbury yesterday when Pendower (7/2) made a promising return to racecourse action by pulling comfortably clear in the opening maiden hurdle.
Nicky Henderson's 1/2 favourite Anquetta was a most disappointing fifth on the soft ground.
"It has taken a while to get him on track and I thought he would need it today," said Nicholls. "We just had to get on with it. I think he's alright and he'll run again somewhere. He jumps brilliantly."