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Leopardstown

  • 14:30 BHP Insurance Irish Champion Hurdle 2m

  • (Grade 1) €110,000 added 4yo+ 5 ran
  • Winner €71,500 2nd €20,900 3rd €9,900 4th €3,300
  • Going: Soft
  • Surface: Turf
    Weighed In
  • Winning time: 4m 5.10s
  • Off time: 14:30:03

Hurricane Fly blows rivals away

Mullins surprised by manner of victory

Last Updated: 29/01/12 4:58pm

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Hurricane Fly: Ultra impressive

Hurricane Fly: Ultra impressive

Hurricane Fly didn't come off the bridle when winning the BHP Insurance Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown on Sunday.

Willie Mullins' star (4-5 fav) had been absent since winning at Punchestown in May but oozed class throughout the race under Ruby Walsh.

Walsh pushed him into the lead from front-running stablemate Thousand Stars turning for home and was not hard pressed to saunter to a six and a half length victory.

Jessica Harrington's Oscars Well (8-1) ran his best race of the season to fill the runner-up spot, whilst the well-fancied Unaccompanied was outpaced before the home turn and could only finish fourth behind Thousand Stars.

Mullins said: "He completely surprised me. It must be as good a performance as he's ever produced.

"They went a right good gallop. Ruby said he wasn't travelling in the ground early on but once he put him in the race three out, he came alive.

"I was a bit anxious about the ground and he was very quiet beforehand, but maybe he's just maturing.

"Normally it takes two lads to lead him as he can be a bit tight.

"We had been worried before Cheltenham last year how he would handle everything, including the parade, but he went round like a handicapper today.

"I was a little concerned he would flop as my first two runners disappointed.

"I was surprised how fit he appeared. We'll keep a lid on him between now and Cheltenham."

Bookmaker reaction

The manner of victory predictably saw Hurricane Fly cut across the board to win back-to-back Stan James Champion Hurdles at Cheltenham in March.

The sponsors have him at 5-6 (from 7-4), Boylesports and Sky Bet go 4-5 whilst BetVictor offer 10-11 about Mullins' eight-year-old.

Coral are one of the few firms who don't have the reigning champion at odds-on, with the Barking firm offering even money about a repeat victory.

"It may have been a delayed reappearance for Hurricane Fly, but it was well worth waiting for, and having proved his wellbeing in emphatic fashion, he is now red-hot favourite for back-to-back Champion Hurdle wins," said spokesman David Stevens.

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