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Mullins expects more from Hurricane

Willie Mullins has genuine claims of completing a clean sweep in Friday's Rabobank Champion Hurdle at Punchestown as he saddles three-quarters of the field.

Leading his trio is Hurricane Fly, the 2011 Champion Hurdle hero at Cheltenham who has lifted this prize in imperious fashion for the last two years and is bidding for success at the Punchestown Festival for the fourth consecutive season.

Ruby Walsh's mount lost for the first time since November 2009 when only third to Rock On Ruby at Cheltenham, looking as if he might have run a little flat.

"I'd be hoping for a lot more than at Cheltenham. He's been working well and seems in good form. Hopefully he can produce a good performance," Mullins said.

Mullins' all-conquering stable will also unleash the committed grey Thousand Stars, who regularly chases home Hurricane Fly, finished second in the race a year ago, and ran a blinder to just lose out to Oscar Whisky in the Aintree Hurdle.

Zaidpour, who was eighth in the Champion Hurdle but had looked more his old self in minor races on testing ground earlier in the campaign, completes the trio.

"Both Zaidpour and Thousand Stars have run good, solid races this season. They are both fit and well and will like the ground," the trainer added.

Barry Geraghty has the mount on Edward O'Grady's The Real Article, who was placed to win a pair of Grade Two events at Tipperary and Down Royal in the early stages of the campaign.

He then came up short behind Voler La Vedette at Fairyhouse, Unaccompanied at Leopardstown and Get Me Out Of Here back at Fairyhouse this month.

Geraghty, The Real Article's regular rider, said: "He's a good horse and is competitive at the level but Hurricane Fly will be very hard to beat. If Hurricane Fly turns up in his usual form, then he looks a shoo-in."


From Belfast Telegraph