Hurricane reports for Champion duty
Hurricane Fly makes his eagerly awaited seasonal reappearance in Sunday's BHP Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown, where he will face four rivals.
Trained by Willie Mullins, the son of Montjeu was imperious throughout the whole of the last campaign, winning five Grade Ones on the bounce, including the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham.
Ruby Walsh's mount will be having his first outing since he was successful at Punchestown last May after Mullins sidestepped a number of engagements because he was not totally satisfied with his charge at home.
The trainer said: "Everything has gone fine this week, so he's ready to run. He did a lovely bit of work in Leopardstown (on January 5) and all his work after that has been good - fingers crossed he stays right.
"He'd been disappointing me up to Leopardstown and having a good workout on grass just put him right, I think. He's schooled well over hurdles since and it is always good to see them away from home and see what they can do.
"This is probably one of his stiffest tests for his first run, but he likes Leopardstown and he's been giving us all the right signs, so we just hope he can transfer that on race day.
"He will have to improve (for the run). It would be very hard to bring the likes of him to Cheltenham without a run. This fellow is a Montjeu and he gets a bit wired up. A run and a big day out at a race meeting is probably essential."
Should Hurricane Fly fail to meet expectations, Mullins has an excellent deputy in Thousand Stars. Some have suggested Walsh should have made more use of the horse when second to Sunday's rival Unaccompanied in the Istabraq Hurdle, given he stays well, but Mullins felt there was little wrong with his decision.
He told At The Races: "Ruby did what he thought was right on the day, given the circumstances. People might think he could have done something different, but if you could take back every race you ever rode or ran, then that would be very simple. The fact is he did what he did on the day.
"Getting 10lb from our fellow, she (Unaccompanied) is a star mare. We will see what she can do for the rest of the season. I thought he ran a cracker and hopefully he can keep going and improve for the rest of the season like he did last year."