Fly stamps class on Champion
Hurricane Fly confirmed his superiority over Solwhit as he cleared away from his old rival on the run-in to take the BHP Insurances Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown.
The big two tracked Thousand Stars for much of the contest and went past the leader on the final turn, with Hurricane Fly looking to be going much the better of the pair.
Paul Townend held the advantage going to the last on the Willie Mullins-trained 4-9 favourite, who flew over it and raced clear to win smoothly by three and a half lengths.
Mullins said: "We didn't know what the plan was going out because we were wondering if Davy Russell would make the running on his horse (Solwhit).
"We weren't sure, so I think between Paul and Katie (Walsh, on Thousand Stars) they must have elected at the start what to do.
"After Thousand Stars won the County Hurdle the way he did we knew he would stay well, so they elected to make the one-two from the start and it seemed to work out.
"I think he'll go straight to Cheltenham now. I haven't any other plans for him. I'm delighted to get that over. It was a good performance and we'll give him a little break now before building him up again.
"He can jump a bit right when there is nothing on his outside but is very slick when other horses are around him. It's our first Irish Champion Hurdle success so I'm going to enjoy it."
Townend added: "It was a proper championship gallop. My lad jumped super, and I just gave him a slap after the last. He's a true professional and a proper horse."
The sponsors cut Hurricane Fly from 5-1 to 9-2 for the Stan James Champion Hurdle after his triumph.