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Mullins will Fly flag in Champion Hurdle with 'fine' Hurricane


Willie Mullins. Picture: Barry Cregg / SPORTSFILE

Willie Mullins. Picture: Barry Cregg / SPORTSFILE

Willie Mullins. Picture: Barry Cregg / SPORTSFILE

ON the day that entries were revealed for the Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown later this month, Willie Mullins reaffirmed that Hurricane Fly is in top order following his 18th Grade One win last month.

The main protagonists all appear in a list of seven potential runners for the Grade One, with Jezki and Our Conor both looking like renewing their rivalry with the 10-year-old.

Mullins said yesterday: "Hurricane Fly is fine. Paul (Townend) rode him out this morning and he just did a mild canter with him. Paul doesn't like to get him too fresh so he'll tell me when he is and we'll do a bit more with him.

"He retains all the characteristics of a colt who is flat racing even though he is 10, he hasn't lost it."

Also included among the entries for the Leopardstown race is Annie Power and although she is unlikely to take on Hurricane Fly at that juncture, Mullins admitted he had no race in mind for her just yet.

"She has come home fine from Cheltenham and we just have to find the next target for her now.

"I haven't even looked at anything as we have been quite busy since and tomorrow is a work day so that'll be busy and Wednesday we might start looking at what might be down the road."

A major blow to the string was the loss of Sir Des Champs for the season after he developed heat in his leg four days after finishing fourth in the Lexus Chase at Leopardstown.

"You just never know what is going to happen," Mullins said. "We got up the other morning, four days after the Lexus and he had a little bit of heat in the leg.

"You think the morning after the race that things are good and two mornings after the race you think that's it clear but we know from experience that these little things can arise.

"Usually once you get past the fourth day you are alright but you never know. It's a very small injury but with a horse like Sir Des Champs over fences, you just can't take the chance so we just ruled out everything and we'll get him right."

Mullins added: "He'll come back. He's young enough, I think, and that's the good thing with jump racing rather than flat racing, if you give them time there's a career span that can be good for six years once they don't use up too much mileage."