Hurricane Fly a force of nature, says Tony McCoy
Tony McCoy is a born winner – but even the prolific Ulsterman accepts he has his work cut out tomorrow when he will attempt to get the better of Hurricane Fly.
McCoy, this week crowned Belfast Telegraph Sports Star of the Year, will be on board Down Royal Festival winner Jezki in tomorrow's Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown.
But, despite an injury scare, it is the brilliant Hurricane Fly – owned by Rose Boyd of Crossgar and Belfast's George Creighton – who will start hot favourite to win and take a huge step towards a third Champion Hurdle triumph at the Cheltenham Festival.
McCoy, who is closing in on an incredible 19th successive champion jockey title, admitted: "Hurricane Fly is a great horse and he's going to be very hard to beat.
"We will know more about Jezki after the race," added the 39-year-old.
Victory for Hurricane Fly would be a record 19th Grade One triumph, and set the scene for his Champion Hurdle title defence at Cheltenham on March 11.
Champion trainer Willie Mullins revealed yesterday that Hurricane Fly suffered a bruised foot during the week but will be fit to attempt a fourth successive Irish Champion Hurdle, emulating the feat of the great Istabraq.
The ten-year-old has drifted slightly in the market for tomorrow's race – 4-7 from 1-2 – while he is 3-1 market leader for the Champion Hurdle.
"Hurricane Fly gave us a scare during the week," Mullins said.
"One of his bits of work was well below what he usually shows us on the gallops.
"He disappointed me and his regular work rider Paul Townend and it transpired later that he had bruised a foot.
"We discovered the bruise when we took him out for a walk. Our blacksmith removed the shoe and we poulticed the foot overnight. Hurricane Fly was fine the following morning and has been fine since.
"Hopefully what happened won't have a detrimental effect on his chance of winning and retaining his unbeaten record at Leopardstown."
Jezki, Our Conor and Captain Cee Bee provide the opposition in a near rematch of last month's Ryanair Hurdle.
Fly, ridden as usual by Ruby Walsh, beat Jezki by two and a half lengths in that one and can repeat the dose tomorrow.