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Last Updated: 29/12/10 6:01pm
Hurricane Fly was an impressive winner at Leopardstown
Hurricane Fly cruised to the head of the Champion Hurdle betting with a brilliant victory in the paddypower.com iPhone App Festival Hurdle at Leopardstown on Wednesday afternoon.
The hugely talented hurdler, trained by Willie Mullins and ridden by Paul Townend, tracked a steady pace set by outsider Luska Lad with Solwhit content to wait in third as the field raced in indian file for much of the first half of the race.
Hurricane Fly (8-11f) jumped alongside Luska Lad at a number of flights only to be reigned in by Townend who was content to have a lead until close home.
The jockey eventually asked the six year old to go to the front at the last and Hurricane Fly did so effortlessly with barely a shake of the reigns from Townend as he produced one of his most impressive performances to date.
Solwhit (6-4) delayed his challenge for longer than he had on his two previous clashes with the Mullins-trained star in what appeared to be a deliberate change of tactics.
The plan came to nought though as he was readily outpaced from the last where he was a little short of room on the inside but he did rally as gamely as ever to snatch second on the line from Luska Lad.
Totesport responded to the result by promoting Hurricane Fly to outright Champion Hurdle favouritism at 7-2, while sponsors Stan James go 3-1.
Mullins said: "I thought the run at Fairyhouse took a good bit out of him and was afraid that he was a little bit flat coming here.
"But he had to take his chance, and once again he showed what a turn of foot he has.
"There is nothing set in stone but I would like to get three runs into him before Cheltenham, and I'd say he'll come back here for the Irish Champion Hurdle next month."
Charles Byrnes was "very happy" with Solwhit and has "no real plans", while Shark Hanlon said of Luska Lad: "I'm thrilled with that run which is probably the best of his career.
"It's the first time that he's gone that way and I was a bit afraid as he's better going right-handed.
"He'll probably come back here for the Irish Champion Hurdle."