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Wednesday 15 August 2018

Mullins says fly is buzzing

Willie Mullins is refusing to look beyond Sunday's BHP Insurances Irish Champion Hurdle with his brilliant performer Hurricane Fly.

The seven-year-old's talent has never been questioned since he arrived on Irish soil from France, but injury has meant he has missed out on a trip to the Cheltenham Festival for the last two seasons.

The current campaign could not have gone better so far, however, easing to success over Solwhit in the Hatton's Grace Hurdle at Fairyhouse before beating the same rival in equally impressive style in Leopardstown's Festival Hurdle.

He is towards the head of the betting for the Champion Hurdle again at Cheltenham in March -- but Mullins is keen not to look that far ahead as he does not want to tempt fate.

"He's been grand since his last run, which we were obviously delighted with," said the champion trainer.

"Hopefully he just stays sound and he can maintain the form he's been showing.

"I'm not looking beyond Sunday with him. I'm very happy with him."

Charles Byrnes believes Hurricane Fly would have to have an off-day for Solwhit to turn the tables on his old rival and would be quite happy to claim the runner-up spot once again.

"He's come out of his last race very well and he's in great form," said the County Limerick trainer.

"We are limited where we can go with him at this time of year so we've decided to let him take his chance.

"We're not expecting to beat Hurricane Fly, but we'd be very happy to come home second.

"From what I can see Hurricane Fly seems to be settling better in his races so obviously he's a lot stronger. He seems to be the real deal. One never knows if Hurricane Fly has an off-day. That's obviously the main reason why you have to take your chance."

Although Solwhit has been given an entry in the Champion Hurdle, he is likely to swerve Cheltenham and head to Liverpool for the Aintree Hurdle, which he won in April 2009.

"It's probably more Aintree than Cheltenham," Byrnes went on.

"I'm not saying he's going to go out there and beat them all but there's only a handful of runners, so he might as well take his chance and see if he can pick up a bit of prize-money."

Miesque, the brilliant champion French miler, has died aged 27.

The 10-times Group/Grade One winner was put down on Thursday at Lanes End Farm in Kentucky due to the infirmities of old age.

Miesque was bred in Kentucky by the Niarchos family, but was trained in France by Francois Boutin throughout her illustrious racing career.

"Miesque was part of our lives," the Niarchos family said in a statement.

"She was unique and gave us immense pleasure."

The daughter of Nureyev will be best remembered as the first horse to win two races at the Breeders' Cups, claiming the Mile in 1987 and 1988.

She was retired after her second Breeders' Cup triumph and went on to enjoy great success as a broodmare in America, with her offspring including the high-class miler Kingmambo.

Regular rider Freddie Head said: "She has a place in history, there's no doubt. She was a great, great racemare and a great broodmare. Her death is very sad. She was brilliant."

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