herald

Thursday 17 August 2017

Cheltenham 2015: Hurricane Fly - the people's choice

Hurricane Fly and Ruby Walsh win a fifth Irish Champion Hurdle
Hurricane Fly and Ruby Walsh win a fifth Irish Champion Hurdle

If you didn’t witness the reception Hurricane Fly got after winning the Irish Champion Hurdle in January you definitely heard about it.

Should he win at Cheltenham next week, it’ll possibly be one of the greatest days in the history of the Cheltenham Festival, maybe in jump racing, possibly in horse racing full stop.

Hurricane Fly is a living legend. The horse with the most Grade One wins ever, the 11-year-old just doesn’t get the fact that most horses his age are finished at the top level and are winding down ahead of retirement to greener pastures.

Hurricane Fly’s haul of 22 is incredible and there’s not a more impressive collection out there. His longevity has been amazing, especially considering  that he had frustratingly missed a number of intended engagements during his first two seasons with Mullins.

His Grade One tally could/should be even more.

Having begun this season as a 40/1 shot to win the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham for a third time, Hurricane Fly is now no bigger than 8/1 for the opening day feature next week after surprising almost everybody.

Going to Cheltenham in 2011 Hurricane Fly was incredibly sent off at 11/4. Albeit favourite, the price was very big for a horse who had won three Grade Ones on his way that season but doubts over his temperament and the record of his sire, Montjeu, around the undulating Cotswolds were giving the doubters plenty of hope. He blew the talented Peddlers Cross away and the runner-up was arguably never the same horse again.

Defeated by Rock On Ruby and Overturn the following year, Hurricane Fly’s knockers were back on the pedestal suggesting that he simply wasn’t as good a horse around Cheltenham as he could be in Ireland.

But following that defeat, ‘The Fly’ went back for more. In 2013, he reversed the roles with Rock On Ruby and became the first horse since Comedy Of Errors to regain his crown.

Last year Jezki came out on top and following his failure to make it five in a row in the Champion Hurdle at Punchestown, it appeared that Hurricane Fly was now on the declining road.

When beating Jezki in the Morgiana Hurdle in November, The Fly extended his own record of Grade One wins to 20 but it was still thought that maybe he just caught Jezki out at the right time of year.

But, as Jezki’s trainer Jessica Harrington has since admitted, Hurricane Fly is just unbeatable around Leopardstown.

Willie Mullins’ stable star is now not only owned by George Creighton and Rose Boyd but also runs runs for the racing public.

Hurricane Fly is the people’s horse.

There’s no doubt that even the staunchest of Hurricane Fly fans will have their doubts over his chances of setting Cheltenham alight on Tuesday, but if the rain keeps up and the ground is softer than is tradition on the opening day of the meeting, this old boy will certainly come into the reckoning and Mother Nature could give jockey Ruby Walsh a big decision to make.

Victory next week for Hurricane Fly and he’ll be remembered decades from now, just like the great Arkle is. Cheltenham conceives magical moments. Don’t rule this one out.

 

Super Fly by the numbers

GRADE 1 SUCCESSES

2008

Fairyhouse 30 Nov - Royal Bond Novice Hurdle

Leopardstown 27 Dec - Future Champions Novice Hurdle

2009

Punchestown 28 April - Herald Champion Novice Hurdle

2010

Punchestown 23 April - Punchestown Champion Hurdle

Fairyhouse 15 Dec - Hatton’s Grace Hurdle

Leopardstown 29 Dec - Dec Festival Hurdle

2011

Leopardstown 23 Jan - Irish Champion Hurdle

Cheltenham 15 March - English Champion Hurdle

Punchestown 6 May - Punchestown Champion Hurdle

2012

Leopardstown 29 Jan - Irish Champion Hurdle

Punchestown 27 April - Punchestown Champion Hurdle

Punchestown 18 Nov - Morgiana Hurdle

Leopardstown 29 Dec - Festival Hurdle

2013

Leopardstown 27 Jan - Irish Champion Hurdle

Cheltenham 12 March - English Champion Hurdle

Punchestown 26 April - Punchestown Champion Hurdle

Punchestown 17 Nov - Morgiana Hurdle

Leopardstown 29 Dec - Festival Hurdle

2014

Leopardstown 26 Jan - Irish Champion Hurdle

Punchestown 16 Nov - Morgiana Hurdle

Leopardstown 29 Dec - Festival Hurdle

2015

Leopardstown 25 Jan - Irish Champion Hurdle

CAREER RECORD

Born 5th April 2004

Flat Runs 10 Wins 2

Jump Runs 29 Wins 24

Prizemoney earned €2,273,628.41

Promoted articles

Entertainment News