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Hurricane Fly has Champion Hurdle rivals running scared

By Thomas Kelly

Hurricane Fly appears to have scared away most of the opposition as only eight horses have been entered for the BHP Insurance Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown on January 25.

Willie Mullins' ace performer is set to attempt to make history as the first horse to win the race for a fifth time. Having already amassed a record 21 Grade One successes, Hurricane Fly is tied with Istabraq (1998-2001) on four wins in the two-mile contest and has an unbeaten record of nine victories at the course.

Jezki, trained by Jessica Harrington, is set to provide the stiffest competition once again after the pair served up a thrilling finish to the Grade One Ryanair Hurdle at Leopardstown over Christmas in which Hurricane Fly prevailed by half a length.

Hurricane Fly's trainer Willie Mullins has also entered Ryanair Hurdle third Arctic Fire, plus Christmas Hurdle winner Faugheen, as well as Diakali.

Des McDonogh won the race with Herbert United way back in 1986 and the veteran Co Meath trainer has given an entry to the four-year-old Fiscal Focus.

"You never know. There's not too many entered as it is at the moment. We'll just see nearer the time," said McDonogh.

The Aidan O'Brien-trained Plinth and last year's Triumph Hurdle winner Tiger Roll, trained by Gordon Elliott, complete the line-up.

A more competitive field looks likely for the Frank Ward Solicitors Irish Arkle Novice Chase which has attracted 10 entries on the same card.

Gordon Elliott's Clarcam is already a Grade One scorer over fences after taking advantage of a blunder by Vautour in the Racing Post Novice Chase at Christmas and will be looking to add to his tally.

The champion trainer has also entered the hugely-exciting Un De Sceaux, Grade One winner Valseur Lido and Adriana Des Mottes.

Enda Bolger's classy Limerick winner Gilgamboa has the option, as does the Mouse Morris-trained of duo Real Steel and Band Of Blood.

Noel Meade's classy Apache Stronghold, second to Don Poli in the Topaz Novice Chase, and Matthew Smith's Rawnaq are also engaged.

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