Straight to Cheltenham
Next stop Prestbury for Irish Champion hero Fly
Trainers can be superstitious -- very superstitious -- at the best of times. Willie Mullins, despite currently being an undisputed champion at his trade, is proving he is no different.
Mentioning Cheltenham and Hurricane Fly in the same sentence seems to be a 'no go' for Mullins.
Yesterday, after Hurricane Fly gave him his first win in the Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown, Mullins went as far as saying: "I couldn't see myself giving him another run beforehand, we will just bring him home and prepare him for Cheltenham." And that was about as much reference as we got.
It's not hard to see why he doesn't want to tempt fate. Hurricane Fly is the real deal.
He is definitely the best horse residing on this side of the water that will contest the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham and he could end up being the best hurdler Willie Mullins will ever train -- for some time at least anyway.
There is also the unforgettable matter that Hurricane Fly has failed to make the last two Cheltenham Festivals when a warm fancy for both.
Paddy Power stand alone at 5/1 about Hurricane Fly for the Champion Hurdle when he will face last year's winner, Binocular, as well as previous course heroes Peddlers Cross and Menorah, most notably.
Boylesports were most impressed and are a stand alone shortest price of 3/1 joint favourite about Hurricane Fly for Cheltenham.
Yesterday, the six-year-old was once again getting the better of six-time Grade One winner Solwhit with stable mate Thousand Stars staying on to be third after setting a blistering pace.
Solwhit got a bit closer than previous meetings, but that wasn't really an issue and Willie Mullins' post race comments left us expecting more to come from Hurricane Fly.
"I thought his last piece of work at home during the week was average enough and Paul confirmed that," Mullins revealed.
"But he just got a little cut here the last day and Paul just said it was like he was feeling that.
"I told Paul that if he thought he was feeling it on the way to the start today to take his boots off at the start and race without them, but he obviously didn't."
The "little flesh wound" on Hurricane Fly's heel, wasn't enough to stop him race away to a seventh Grade One win and a fourth without defeat.
Cheltenham will prove to be his biggest test yet and whether he can go and make it five in a row, eight in total and one on the biggest stage of all, only time will tell, but he couldn't do any more to earn his place near the head of the betting.
The race could be ran to suit him, he will jump better at speed, he will jump straight with horses around him, and he could jump into the history books as the 2011 Champion Hurdle winner.