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Hurricane ready to blow in

Willie Mullins is refusing to look beyond tomorrow's BHP Insurances Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown with his brilliant performer Hurricane Fly.

The seven-year-old's talent has never been questioned since he arrived on Irish soil from France, but injury has meant he has missed out on a trip to the Cheltenham Festival for the last two seasons.

The current campaign could not have gone better so far, however, easing to success over Solwhit in the Hatton's Grace Hurdle at Fairyhouse before beating the same rival in equally impressive style in Leopardstown's Festival Hurdle.

He is towards the head of the betting for the Champion Hurdle again at Cheltenham in March — but Mullins is keen not to look that far ahead as he does not want to tempt fate.

“He's been grand since his last run, which we were obviously delighted with,” said the champion trainer.

“Hopefully he just stays sound and he can maintain the form he's been showing.

“I'm not looking beyond tomorrow with him. I'm very happy with him at the moment.”

Charles Byrnes believes Hurricane Fly would have to have an off-day for Solwhit to turn the tables on his old rival and would be quite happy to claim the runner-up spot once again.

“He's come out of his last race very well and he's in great form,” said the Co. Limerick trainer.

“We are limited where we can go with him at this time of year, so we've decided to let him take his chance.

“We're not expecting to beat Hurricane Fly, but we'd be very happy to come home second.

“From what I can see Hurricane Fly seems to be settling better in his races so obviously he's a lot stronger.

“He seems to be the real deal. One never knows if Hurricane Fly has an off-day. That's obviously the main reason why you have to take your chance.”

Although Solwhit has been given an entry in the Champion Hurdle, he is likely to swerve Cheltenham and head to Liverpool for the Aintree Hurdle which he won in April 2009.

“It's probably more Aintree than Cheltenham at this stage,” Byrnes went on. “Naturally we have entered him in Cheltenham. It would be unfair to the horse not to make an entry for him there after all he's won for us.”

Colm Murphy's talented mare Voler La Vedette was third behind the big two over Christmas and the Co. Wexford handler would be happy with minor honours again.

“Touch wood, she seems in good form so hopefully all goes well,” said Murphy.

Belfast Telegraph


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