Thursday 22 March 2018

Mullins is perplexed by Fly flop

Willie Mullins remains at a loss to explain Hurricane Fly's disappointing performance when losing his crown in the Champion Hurdle on Tuesday.

The 10-time Grade One winner was considered one of the bankers of the Festival in the opening day's feature, but was in trouble under Ruby Walsh.

The eight-year-old deserves some credit for finishing third, given he was clearly not at his best, and Mullins is hoping the spark returns at the Punchestown Festival next month.

"He's fine this morning. He just didn't fire on the day for whatever reason and we just look forward to the next day with him now," said Mullins.

"He'll go to Punchestown."

Featherbed Lane and Abergavenny became the fourth and fifth casualties of the Cheltenham Festival after sustaining leg injuries in the Coral Cup.

Philip Hobbs' Featherbed Lane lost his action and was pulled up by 7lb claimer James Best shortly after the fifth flight.

It was later confirmed the seven-year-old was humanely destroyed after breaking a leg.

Brian Ellison's Abergavenny fell at the third and, despite attempts to save him, he had to be put down from a leg fracture.

Earlier on the card, Cotton Mill looked to have suffered a fall at the last in the Neptune Investment Novices' Hurdle, but trainer John Ferguson confirmed the five-year-old to be okay after his fall.

Wishfull Thinking also suffered a horrific fall in the sportingbet.com Queen Mother Champion Chase, rolling under the rails and into a crowd.

Jockey Richard Johnson suffered a minor soft tissue injury in the fall, but the horse was said to be fine.

Bookmakers declared themselves to be in front at the half way point after two more short-priced favourites lost yesterday.

"The first two winning favourites destroyed (Tuesday's) gains, but the unlikely double whammy of Grands Crus and Sizing Europe getting chinned turned the tide back in our favour and catapulted us ahead over the two days," said Paddy Power. "But that could change."

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