The Ulster owned champion Hurricane Fly continues to rewrite the form and history books with another pulsating victory in the Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown on Sunday.
Owned by Crossgar based Rose Boyd and George Creighton, from Belfast, and trained by Irish Champion Jumps trainer, Willie Mullins, Hurricane Fly was registering his fifth success in the race to beat the record of the mighty Istabraq.
The locally owned champion which is cared for by Mullins head girl, Gayle Carlisle from Ballynahinch, was recording his twenty second victory in Grade 1 company while maintaining his remarkable unbeaten record at the Foxrock track with ten starts and ten victories.
Regular rider Ruby Walsh appeared to be niggling the little star along three from home but like the champion he is, he soon answered the top jockey and moved to challenge the leader and current Champion Hurdler, Jetzi with Tony McCoy aboard.
Hurricane Fly already appeared set for success at the final flight where Jetzi stumbled on landing but only lost a couple of lengths. Arctic Fire ran on in the closing stages to supply Mullins with a 1-2 in the Leopardstown feature.
The Champion and winning trainer said: “That’s fantastic. He did it the hard way today. They made a complete staying race of it today. I thought it was slow for the first two furlongs but when they disappeared round the bend and down the back they took off. So much so that he appeared not to be able to keep up.
“When push came to shove he just got down to race. He got, as he always does, a crucial jump at the last and when the other horse made a mistake that was it all over. We just enjoy days like this now and you have to keep asking are you sure he’s not five. He keeps pulling out performances like that.
“He (Ruby Walsh) might ask for my advice on what to ride but first of all you have to get there and we can worry about that on the day. He’s beaten the reigning English champion three times this season but I was certainly worried going down the back today. They quickened and there was a gap of two to three lengths. That’s where it means so much to have a rider like Ruby that won’t panic.”
Ruby Walsh added: “He didn’t travel with the same fluidity as he has done in the past today, but I suppose when the going got a little bit tougher going to the second-last he started to pick up.
“When he rounded the bend and I got to AP (Tony McCoy on Jezki) I was thinking ‘how much is he going to find - but when I saw AP go for his whip I knew I had him covered. I was going as fast as I was able - as fast as he (Hurricane Fly) wanted to go anyway. I was struggling. It was the outside track, we didn’t go mad early and they stepped up down the back to draw the sting out of us. It was a testing race. When I got more aggressive with him, he started to pick up and when I got on to AP’s tail, he stuck his head down like he always does.”
Walsh is confident he had Jezki’s measure when the latter made his mistake stating: “He gave me a brilliant jump at the last. Obviously Jezki stepped into it and missed it and that probably enhanced the margin we won by, but he’s an incredible horse. I jumped the last well and going on past performances, he wasn’t going to shirk the issue on the run home.
“I thought I had it - It was unfortunate Jezki made the mistake, as without Jezki you wouldn’t have the race. He’s come back here now and won five of these (Irish Champion Hurdles) and 22 Grade Ones, he’s a pleasure to ride, he’s a credit to Willie and the staff at Closutton, he’s just a marvellous little horse.
“This horse means a huge amount to me. I ride so many horses with potential but for horses to go and deliver and to go and repeat it and deliver - Kauto (Star) managed it, Big Buck’s, it takes iron horses to do it and that’s what they are, they’re incredible horses and I’m just very lucky to have come along at a time when these good horses are around.”
Hurricane Fly is todate the winner of 25 races and has amassed in excess of £1.7 million in prize money.