Tributes flow for 'legend of a horse' Hurricane Fly
Published 01/09/2015 | 02:30
Glowing tributes have been paid to Hurricane Fly after Willie Mullins confirmed that he was retiring "a legend of a horse" from racing.
Famed for his tremendous courage as well as his undoubted class, Hurricane Fly won a record-breaking 22 Grade Ones after joining the Closutton maestro in 2008.
"He's come back into training and he's really well in himself, but having had a chat with the owners, they were keen enough to retire him while he is still in great order," said Mullins (pictured).
"What can you say about him? He's a legend of a horse. This day was always going to come and it's great that we're doing it on our terms, rather than due to an injury or something .
"He's a horse who has everything - speed and stamina and an incredible bravery and aggressiveness."
The son of Montjeu won 24 of his 32 races over jumps, including the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham in 2011 before becoming the first horse since Comedy Of Errors in 1975 to regain the crown in 2013.
Mullins pointed to his first triumph at Prestbury Park as his personal highlight. He said: "I would probably say his first Champion Hurdle in Cheltenham (was the best).
"There was so many good days. Going back to Cheltenham to win another Champion Hurdle having lost one broke all sorts of records and statistics."
Discussions are ongoing regarding where Hurricane Fly will spend his retirement, but he is set to make a few public appearances, starting off on Irish Champions Weekend.
"He's going to the Curragh to parade on Irish Champions Weekend," said Mullins, "and he's also going to Merano in Italy to parade there at their big meeting in September."
Hurricane Fly had a particular affinity with Leopardstown, winning each of his 10 starts at the Dublin circuit, most recently bringing the house down when clinching a fifth successive victory in the Irish Champion Hurdle in January.
He earned connections nearly £1.9m in prize-money and had his final career start in the French Champion Hurdle at Auteuil in June, when he was sixth.
Ruby Walsh guided Hurricane Fly to 18 victories and saluted "the best hurdler I've ever sat on".
Speaking in his blog for Paddy Power, Walsh said: "Quite simply, Hurricane Fly is the best hurdler I have ever sat on. The only hurdler you can compare him to in my lifetime is Istabraq.
"The Fly was back in training and still looks a million dollars. But the bold and brave choice had to be made. I'm sure when the news sinks in fully, it was the right decision."