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Saturday 10 December 2016

Mullins hails Hurricane a 'legend of a horse' as record-breaker retires

Hurricane Fly
Hurricane Fly

Willie Mullins yesterday announced that Hurricane Fly, one of the greatest horses of all time, has been retired from racing.

The 11-year-old won't return to racing this winter and bows out with a record-breaking 22 Grade One victories to his name.

Hurricane Fly suffered defeat on just eight occasions over hurdles and enjoyed 24 wins from 0 32 runs over obstacles for Willie Mullins.

Mullins paid tribute to the "horse of a generation" following the announcement at lunchtime yesterday.

Hurricane Fly was back in training with Mullins and was even among the horses ridden out yesterday morning but a discussion with the owners brought about the final decision of retirement.

Chat

Mullins said: "He's come back into training and he's really well in himself, but having had a chat with the owners, they were keen enough to retire him while he is still in great order.

"What can you say about him? He's a legend of a horse. This day was always going to come and it's great that we're doing it on our terms, rather than due to an injury or something like that."

Hurricane Fly's final race was in the Grande Course De Haies d'Auteuil back in June when he finished sixth and his final win was at Leopardstown in January when he got the better of a memorable battle with Arctic Fire and Jezki.

"He's a horse who has everything - speed and stamina and an incredible bravery and aggressiveness. I think those are the key factors."

He added that Hurricane Fly is set to be busy in the initial months of his retirement: "We've not decided what he's going to do yet. He's still here and was ridden out as normal this morning. He's still a handful and I've no doubt he's a rising 12-year-old with the mind of a six-year-old.

"He's going to the Curragh to parade on Irish Champions Weekend and he's also going to Merano in Italy to parade there at their big Gold Cup meeting in September.

"He's also just been invited to go to the big meeting at Milan in October, without them knowing he was going to be retired. We were invited last year but decided not to, but he can do that now."

Ruby Walsh described Hurricane Fly as "the best hurdler I have sat on" and admitted to staying out of the decision whether or not to retire him or not.

"Hurricane Fly was back in training and still looks a million dollars. But the bold and brave choice had to be made on whether to retire him or go on for another season.

"But I'm sure when the news sinks in fully, it was the right decision," said Walsh.

"There was also a school of thought that said that Cheltenham didn't suit him... Really? He'd already won won two Champion Hurdles and I was still thinking about him as a Champion Hurdle contender last season.

"Even as an 11-year-old, he ran a blinder to finish a six-length third to the much younger Faugheen at the Cheltenham Festival.

"I'm sure if the Fly wasn't around I would have made my mind up on riding Faugheen much earlier.

"But it says something that the decision went down to the wire. His longevity and durability is what will mark him out as one of the true greats in jumps racing."

 

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