Friday 19 January 2018

Dessie Hughes confident of Our Conor improvement ahead of Hurricane Fly rematch

Trainer Dessie Hughes bullish about Our Conor
Trainer Dessie Hughes bullish about Our Conor

Nick Robson

Dessie Hughes insists Our Conor "couldn't be better" ahead of his second crack at Hurricane Fly in the BHP Insurance Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown on January 26.

The Barry Connell-owned youngster burst on to the scene last season when becoming the most impressive winner of the Triumph Hurdle in recent years.

A minor setback picked up when having a pipe-opener on the Flat meant he did not reappear until the Ryanair Hurdle over Christmas, where he conceded race fitness and experience to Hurricane Fly and Jezki.

He nevertheless came out of the race with his reputation intact as despite five-year-olds traditionally struggling in the top hurdle division, Our Conor was less than six lengths behind the dual champion hurdler and Hughes expects him to improve considerably for that run.

"He's 100 per cent, he couldn't be better," said Hughes, who trained Hardy Eustace to win two Champion Hurdles.

"He was the last off the bridle at Christmas and it was just race fitness that beat him.

"I've no doubt that he'll improve on that.

"Even when he runs in the Irish Champion I'd expect he'd need that to put him spot on, so we expect him to peak at Cheltenham - that was what happened last year, he improved with every run."

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