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Fly on course for Leopardstown

Willie Mullins reports Hurricane Fly to be "100%" ahead of his planned seasonal return in the BHP Insurance Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown.

The eight-year-old was unbeaten in five Grade One starts last season, landing the Irish Champion Hurdle, the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham and rounding off a stellar campaign with victory at Punchestown, but the gelding has sidestepped two intended runs already this season, with the champion trainer admitting he had not been pleased with how his star performer had been showing up at home.

An impressive racecourse gallop at Leopardstown last week was considered a major step forward, however, and Mullins is keeping everything crossed that Hurricane Fly is back at the Foxrock venue on January 29.

"He just hadn't been pleasing me in his work and if his work is not good, I'm not happy and he's not running," Mullins told At The Races.

"He's a horse who is very sharp in his work, but he has obviously not been coming up the gallop as fast as I think he is able to. He did please me the other day and hopefully we can build on that.

"I don't think he needs to improve too much from his work the other day. I thought it was very good work and I'm more than happy with him now. With a clear run between now and the 29th, he'll be more or less at his best I hope.

"At the moment I don't see any problem with Hurricane Fly. He's working well and doing everything right. He did a little bit of work yesterday and I was very pleased with him. Paul (Townend) rode him out this morning and he's 100%.

"I'd say two more good bits of work will do him (before Leopardstown)."

Stablemate Thousand Stars is more likely to line up in the Champion Hurdle than the World Hurdle at Cheltenham in March, according to Mullins.

Mullins said: "At the moment I would be going Champion Hurdle. It's going to be hard to beat Big Buck's (in the World Hurdle), but hopefully, it's going to be hard to beat Hurricane Fly. He's got some nice options after that. I actually think the race in Aintree (Aintree Hurdle over two and a half miles) should be his big target this season."

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