Ruby: I have the easy job, his team do all the work
RUBY WALSH praised the team around Hurricane Fly on the day the horse galloped into the record books for winning the most Grade or Group One races in racing.
Walsh enjoyed a five-timer on the Punchestown card, the first time he had achieved that on home soil, and his second consecutive Stan James Morgiana Hurdle triumph was his 11th Grade One victory on the nine-year-old.
"I have the easy job," Walsh told The Herald. "It's Willie, Gail who leads him up, Dick the head-lad and Paul who rides the horse in all his work that deserve all the credit for continually getting him to reach that sort of level."
Reflecting on the race, Walsh said: "He was good. He has been very strong so there was always going to be a lot to work on."
Walsh himself won on Kauto Star in 14 of his 16 Grade One wins for Paul Nicholls and he added: "I always said it about Paul with Kauto Star and Willie with Hurricane Fly – these horses have to go through a lot of work and rack up a lot of mileage to win these races and to get them to keep coming back is phenomenal."
So while Hurricane Fly may not have won quite like a 1/16 favourite is expected to win, this was the race that would see him open to most improvement, to which Walsh replied: "Big time."
Hurricane Fly was left at 5/1 with the Champion Hurdle sponsors Stan James and Boylesports, while he is the same price from 4/1 with Ladbrokes and Paddy Power were least impressed, pushing him to 6/1.
Despite their record-breaking afternoon, there was a sad end to the day for Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh as new recruit to the yard Sanctuaire was killed in a schooling session after racing.
The former Paul Nicholls inmate, bought during the summer by Rich Ricci and had been entered to take on Flemenstar last week in the Fortria Chase, suffered a life ending injury. Walsh was fine afterwards.
FOUR-TIMER IS A PIPE DREAM
DAVID PIPE had not started Cheltenham's Open meeting with any form of success but finished with an incredible 5,995-1 four-timer, headed by Dell' Arca in the StanJames.com Greatwood Hurdle.
The afternoon got under way with a one-two in the Mallard Pawnbrokers And Family Jewellers Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle, led home by 40-1 shot Home Run. The Liquidator (6-4) destroyed his three rivals in the Sky Bet Supreme Trial Novices' Hurdle, while Red Sherlock (7-2 joint-favourite) retained his unbeaten record in the Fairlawne – Festival Jockey Club Fine Dining Bumper.