Speed the key to Hurrican Fly's greatness
Ruby Walsh believes a switch to Leopardstown's innermost track will help Hurricane Fly confirm his superiority over the young guns in Sunday's BHP Insurance Irish Champion Hurdle.
Despite winning two Champion Hurdles at Cheltenham and three previous editions of this prestigious event, plenty were left questioning Willie Mullins' exceptional 10-year-old following a below-par seasonal reappearance in the Morgiana Hurdle at Punchestown - a record 17th Grade One triumph - in November.
His Christmas showdown with last year's Triumph Hurdle hero Our Conor and smart novice Jezki in the Ryanair Hurdle was seen as his toughest test on Irish soil to date, but Hurricane Fly swept them aside with his usual panache.
The same trio again do battle, along with admirable veteran and likely pacemaker Captain Cee Bee, but this time on a tighter circuit than the one they faced over the Festive period.
"He hasn't won 18 Grade Ones for no reason. He's won them because he's a very, very good horse," Walsh told Racing UK.
"On Sunday in Leopardstown we'll be on the inner track, which is a sharper, speedier track. If you look at it coldly, it probably suits me a bit better.
"Hurricane Fly is an ex-high 90s-rated Flat horse. Our Conor is a Triumph Hurdle winner, but he is only a 68- or 70-rated Flat horse, he looks like a stayer.
"Jezki was a bumper horse, so you would imagine if you break it down and head for the tighter track, you'd be hoping Hurricane is going to hold them off again.
"He's in really good form. Paul Townend rides him in all his work and he's very happy with him."