Cheltenham Heroes: Hurricane Fly to blow away Champion Hurdle rivals
The Fly is bidding to become just the sixth horse to win the Champion Hurdle for the third time, and everything suggests Willie Mullins’ world record breaking gelding is the one they all have to beat in the opening day feature.
His record over hurdles since joining Mullins in 2008 is truly phenomenal and has established him as one of the greatest hurdlers of all time. In 24 races, he has triumphed 21 times, finished runner-up once and third on the two other occasions.
Those exploits have secured him £1,583,610 in prize money, but what’s even more remarkable is that 19 of his 21 successes have come in Grade 1 company.
That’s the most ever won by any horse, including the mighty Kauto Star and legendary US flat racer John Henry, both heroes in their own right.
It’s a testament to the skills of his trainer to produce him spot on for the big occasion, and also to the horse himself who is pure talent and has the added attributes of guts and determination in his armory. All the pre-requisites of a true super hero!
He simply hates to be beaten, and when it comes to a battle never dodges the issue.
The Fly has only been beaten once in a 15-race sequence stretching back to April 2010, and that was when third to Rock On Ruby in the 2012 Champion Hurdle when the Mullins yard was out of form.
That’s the only time he has been beaten in three visits to Cheltenham, with the other two seeing him land the Champion Hurdle in 2011 and 2013.
He has looked as good as ever in notching three wins this season, all in Grade 1 company, with the latest of those coming in the Irish Champion Hurdle.
That was his fourth consecutive win in the contest, and having looked vulnerable when Our Conor cruised up at the final flight he showed what has made him so special when digging deep and quickening clear on the run-in to win going away by 1 1/2 lengths.
Now a 10-year-old, he is “stronger than ever” according to his trainer who summed up perfectly what makes him unique when he said: “This fellow has great fight and aggression, they are the qualities that make him stand out.”
Hurricane Fly’s qualities will certainly be tested to the full as he bids to join Hatton’s Grace, Sir Ken, Persian War, See You Then, and Istabraq on the illustrious list of honour of horses to have won the Champion Hurdle three times.
Young progressive pretenders to his crown include the like of The New One, My Tent Or Yours and Our Conor in what is the strongest looking renewal for many a year.
Can these three reveal themselves as the villains in the piece?
However, as far as the Champion Hurdle is concerned, Hurricane Fly has been there, done that and got the T-shirt and that makes him the one they all have to beat in the big race on Day One.