Hurricane all set to fly high
It’s not every Ulster owner can say they have a runner in the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham but this is the case with Belfast man George Creighton and Crossgar's Rose Boyd, both of whom are involved with Hurricane Fly trained by Willie Mullins who is one of the fancies for the big race on Tuesday.
Hurricane Fly has had a superb season, having won The Hattons Grace Hurdle at Fairyhouse in December and followed up with the Christmas Hurdle at Leapordstown before ending up with the Irish Champion Hurdle also at Leapordstown at which he showed he had the class to win the big one at Cheltenam.
“Unfortunately he has missed his last two proposed visits to Cheltenam because of a setback in training,” said Mullins. “Hopefully there will be a better story to tell this time.'
Creighton said: “We bought the horse in France with a view to winning the Champion Hurdle. As far as I am aware, Ruby Walsh will have the mount and that would be wonderful.”
Boyd has a long association with racehorses and owned Killultagh Storm who won seven times.
She owns a horse racing establishment at Rademon near Crossgar and has had a lot of horses with Mullans.
If Hurricane Fly should win, it would be a tremendous boost to a small owner.
In opposition are Binocular, ridden by Tony McCoy; Menorah and Oscar Whiskey who are likely to present the biggest threats.
Dunguib is another horse to watch after his performances earlier in the season but he has had his setbacks and wouldn’t be in the same league as those mentioned.
Apart from the Champion Hurdle there is Ulster involvement in the Cheltenam Gold Cup in which Neil Mulholland, originally from Glenavy and an ex jockey, is hoping for something from the outsider Midnight Chase who has had four wins over fences at Cheltenam.
Mulholland has been successful on the course as a jockey but has yet to win as a trainer and he has never scored at the festival.
His first win over hurdles as a jockey was at Down Royal in 1996 while his first ever winner was on the Flat at Listowel.
Since he began training at a stable rented from David Pipe, Mulholland has had a lot of success, particularly with Midnight Chase who could upset some of the more fancied horses among whom are Imperial Commander, last year’s winner; Long Run who won the King George VI at Kempton; Kauto Star; Denman; Kempes, the mount of Tony McCoy ;and Pandorama who is the representative of Noel Meade.
It looks as though Imperial Commander is the one they all have to beat but I have a liking for Kauto Star who has been one of the standing dishes in the Gold Cup in recent years.
Irish interest is always of note at Cheltenam and Dermot Weld will go close with Unnacompanied in the Triumph Hurdle but one of the horses I like is Plan A who is trained by Gordon Elliott who has had a fantastic season so far.