Thursday 19 April 2018

'Awesome' Hurricane Fly blows competition away

Hurricane Fly, with Ruby Walsh up, jumps the last on the way to winning the Rabobank Champion Hurdle at Punchestown yesterday
Hurricane Fly, with Ruby Walsh up, jumps the last on the way to winning the Rabobank Champion Hurdle at Punchestown yesterday

Thomas Kelly

Willie Mullins branded Hurricane Fly as "just awesome" after his mesmerising success in the Rabobank Champion Hurdle at Punchestown.

Ruby Walsh was pulling double on the Cheltenham Champion Hurdle winner, which led going to the final flight of the Grade One contest.

The 1/2 favourite simply oozed class as he bounded away to score by five lengths from his stablemate Thousand Stars, with Binocular third.

The start almost turned into a farce as no-one wanted to lead when the tape went up, but Tony McCoy decided to go on aboard Binocular.

He was unable to keep a healthy advantage, however, as he consistently jumped out to the left, allowing Menorah to take closer order and lead at the sixth flight.

But it was only a matter of time before Hurricane Fly, last year's winner, came into the picture doing virtual hand-springs over his rivals.

He only had to jump the last to win with the minimum of fuss for a remarkable triumph.

"He was just awesome, and that's the best I've seen from him," said Mullins. "There are no big plans for him. I'll just concentrate on getting him home in one piece and I'd imagine our focus will be based around Cheltenham next season and then come on here."

Of the runner-up, the Carlow handler added: "Thousand Stars came second and held up the Irish form as well. I'm going to see what his Flat mark is and we might run him on the Flat over the summer as he has improved a lot."

Spirit Of Adjisa then sprang a surprise with a game all-the-way win in the Cathal Ryan Memorial Champion Novice Hurdle. Tim Vaughan's charge put up a gutsy effort in the hands of Richard Johnson to floor better-fancied rivals in this Grade One contest.

Prima Vista could not get past the 16/1 shot in a neck-and-neck tussle to the line, with Cheltenham winner First Lieutenant and So Young, the Mullins-trained 9/10 favourite, soundly beaten.

On what was a fine afternoon for Johnson, Wishfull Thinking had earlier put up a meritorious front-running performance under top weight to capture the Mick The Tent Memorial Novice Handicap Chase.

The 11/4 joint-favourite jumped impeccably throughout and held his main market rival Blazing Tempo, from the Mullins camp, by four and a half lengths, with Hampshire Express taking third.

Uncle Junior (6/1) also came out on top for Mullins and Walsh in a real slog for the Stephens Green Hibernian Club Handicap Chase over three and three-quarter miles. Another Palm, trained by Noel Meade, landed narrowly in front, but Uncle Junior was produced to lead close home for a three-length success.

Kid Cassidy, which was embroiled on that bleak afternoon at Newbury in which two horses were electrocuted, impressed in the Star Best For Racing Coverage Novice Hurdle. The improving five-year-old (5/2 favourite) eased clear by 13 lengths under the trusty McCoy.

Irish Independent

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