Downpatrick: Hurricane Fly set for homecoming
Hurricane Fly did local racing proud when winning the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham last week — and racegoers will get the opportunity to show their appreciation when the horse makes a guest appearance at Downpatrick on Sunday.
Hurricane Fly, owned by Crossgar’s Rose Boyd and Belfast’s George Creighton, will parade alongside Christies Foxhunter winner Zemsky, trained in Ballymena by Ian Ferguson.
“Hurricane Fly will run in the Rabobank Hurdle at the Punchestown Festival at the start of May,” said Lewis Creighton, grandson of the co-owner.
“He won the race last year and he really loves Punchestown. It’s always a good festival to get a winner at.
“He’ll be put away for the summer after Punchestown and then come back and defend his Champion Hurdle title after about three or four runs.
“The whole Cheltenham Festival experience was unbelievable — really good.
“To have a Cheltenham winner was brilliant and for that win to be in the Champion Hurdle was extra special.”
Hurricane Fly’s trainer Willie Mullins is confident the horse will be on top form at Punchestown.
“It's all systems go for Punchestown. I hope there might be more improvement in him,” he said.
Downpatrick racecourse manager Richard Lyttle is delighted that Hurricane Fly and Zemsky will be at the track on Sunday.
“The local connections of the two Cheltenham Festival winners have been very kind in agreeing to send such high profile horses to our meeting,” he said.
“Jessica Harrington's Bostons Angel, winner of the RSA Novice Chase at Cheltenham, is another possible — if travel plans can be organised — which would be appropriate with the horse bred and foaled in Downpatrick.”
The fixture will feature a GAA fundraiser with around 1,000 guests attending.
The first race on Sunday is at 2.20pm and the Champion Hurdler has a race named in his honour — the Well Done Hurricane Fly Maiden Hunter Chase.
Meanwhile, Larne trainer Stuart Crawford had a winner at Carlisle yesterday, Campbell Gillies riding Ballycarron Lad to victory in the Easter Family Day Novices Handicap Chase.
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Twice Over, favourite in the planet's most valuable race, is worth taking on in what is usually an unforgiving contest.