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Mullins has faith in Hurricane force

By Martin Kelly

Willie Mullins is placing victories for Hurricane Fly and Quevega highest on his Cheltenham Festival wishlist.

The champion trainer played down a minor hiccup in Quevega's preparation ahead of a bid for a sixth consecutive OLBG Mares Hurdle but could not be happier with dual Champion Hurdler, Ulster-owned Hurricane Fly, whom he actually believes is better than ever at the age of 10.

Asked to summarise his expectations at a meeting which provided five victories in 2013, Mullins said: "I hope Quevega wins, I hope Hurricane Fly wins – they'd be huge for us on the Tuesday (March 11). After that, I hope we can get another winner. I know that if you put up four bankers, three of them will get beat."

Quevega has appeared only twice for the last couple of years, winning at Cheltenham and then going on to Punchestown.

Now also 10, she is well known as being frustrating to train.

Mullins said: "I wasn't happy with the way she was moving and I got the vets in but she's fine now. She had a few easy days because she was ahead of schedule but she has been back out riding the last couple of days.

"She'll do fast work on Saturday. I thought about giving her a run – I did even think about entering her for a mares race at Punchestown (yesterday) but I decided against it."

Hurricane Fly – owned by Rose Boyd and George Creighton – was out on the gallops under Paul Townend yesterday morning.

With a record 19 Grade Ones in the bag, including his recent fourth Irish Champion Hurdle success, the gelding is sure to again be popular in the betting.

"Two seasons ago he wasn't right, last season he was getting better, but last summer was the best summer we've ever had," Mullins said.

"He had a proper summer and looked so good that maybe he was going to improve. It's very surprising, I didn't expect a horse of his age to improve, and especially a Montjeu as many of them don't train on. He's stronger but still retains his fight and aggression."

Champion Hurdle sponsors Stan James have Hurricane Fly as 3-1 joint favourite with The New One, while Our Conor is 9-2 and My Tent Or Yours 5-1.

"I don't think about the dangers," Mullins said. "My job is to get him there.

"The betting suggests what the dangers are."

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