Sextet stand firm against Fly
Published 25/04/2013 | 13:11
Hurricane Fly faces just six rivals as he bids to land the Rabobank Champion Hurdle for the fourth successive year at Punchestown on Friday.
Among the horses taking on Willie Mullins' dual Cheltenham Champion Hurdle hero are three of his stable companions, Midnight Game, So Young and Thousand Stars.
But it is the sole British raider, Rock On Ruby, who is expected to give Hurricane Fly the most to do. The pair clashed at Prestbury Park last month, with Hurricane Fly coming out on top by two and a half lengths from Harry Fry's charge.
Mullins feels "home advantage" further increases Hurricane Fly's chances of victory, telling At The Races: "We've been happy with the horse all year. He's been doing all his work well, eating up after, and coming back strong after his races.
"We've spent a lot of time trying to settle him and maybe it's working, as he's not as aggressive as he used to be. Maybe we have to take that into account when Ruby (Walsh) is riding him in the future.
"Punchestown might suit Rock On Ruby, but it's an away game for him, a strange place, where for us it is just up the road. We'd like to think it's home advantage anyway."
Walsh also believes racing on home soil has to give his mount an extra edge.
"He's in really good order. Punchestown is 35 minutes up the road for Hurricane Fly but it's a long way from Dorset (for Rock On Ruby)," he said.
The Michael Winters-trained Rebel Fitz, winner of last year's Galway Hurdle, and Brendan Duke's Mister Benedictine make up the field.