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'Hurricane couldn't do himself justice'

WILLIE MULLINS yesterday revealed that Champion Hurdle winner Hurricane Fly simply wasn't ready "to do himself justice" in today's Istabraq Festival Hurdle at Leopardstown, hence his absence from the Grade One event.

After a week of speculation of 'would he or wouldn't he run', Hurricane Fly failed to make the acceptors for the closing day's feature contest but all is still well with the fragile seven-year-old.

Speaking at Leopardstown yesterday, Mullins said: "He's grand. Paul rode him out this morning but I just wasn't happy that he was straight enough to do himself justice."

Hurricane Fly is the current favourite for the 2012 Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham and the somewhat upbeat bulletin given by Mullins will come as welcome news for his supporters.

After bookmakers Paddy Power suspended betting on today's race late last week due to a substantial amount of money on Thousand Stars, question marks were raised over Hurricane Fly's participation, but Mullins said a decision wasn't made until "the last minute".

"I always said I would run him when I felt he was ready and not before then," said Mullins. "I think he'll be out shortly but he worked with Thousand Stars at the Curragh last week over a mile and a quarter and needed it badly.

"Physically, the horse is fine. I told the owners last week that he wasn't quite as straight as I would have liked but that I would leave him in the Istabraq Hurdle until the last minute."

The champion trainer didn't rule out a public appearance for the horse in the next two weeks.

"The horse is fine but just didn't work well enough to run," Mullins added. "I could give him a racecourse gallop in the next two weeks. While I could go straight to Cheltenham, I certainly would prefer to run him beforehand."

Next month's Leopardstown's BHP Insurance Irish Champion Hurdle would be the next obvious assignment for the HRI Horse Of The Year, a race he won last year.

Hurricane Fly is still favourite for the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham and is a quite appealing 2/1 non-runner no bet with Ladbrokes, as he goes in search of a seventh consecutive Grade One success and 10th in total.

Betfair customers, meanwhile, who had a bet on the in-play market for the woodiesdiy.com Christmas Hurdle, were left fuming yesterday as Betfair announced that the market was void following an "obvious error".

Immediately after Voler La Vedette had ran out an extremely impressive winner of the three-mile contest, for which she was held up throughout, suspicions were raised as a total of almost €2million was matched on Voler La Vedette at 28/1.

A single punter appeared to be offering to accept €25m worth of bets at in-running odds of 28-1 against Voler La Vedette, even as the 13-8 second favourite crossed the line in front, meaning a potential payout of tens of millions of euro when the horse won.

In theory, the individual could have lost more than $700m had his limit of £25m been wagered.

A brief statement from the betting exchange website stated: "Customers betting in-play on this race will have seen that Voler La Vedette was available to back at 29 when the in-running market was suspended, and that a considerable sum was matched on the clear winner of the price.

"An investigation has revealed that this was due to an obvious technical failure, which allowed a customer to exceed their exposure limit."

Betfair claims to be well within its rights to void the market, according to the statement, which added: "In accordance with our terms and conditions, all in-running bets on this race, both win and place, will be made void.

"We fully appreciate the dissatisfaction this will cause many customers, and apologise for a very poor customer and betting experience.

"Also, in response to a number of customer questions on the matter, we would like to clarify that the account in question has no commercial relationship with Betfair, other than being a customer."

Betting exchanges allow punters to bet at odds set and requested by others rather than by a bookmaker. Members can make both 'back' bets, which are normal bets on a selection to win, and 'lay' bets, where the punter is betting against the selection.