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Hurricane Fly expected to see off younger rivals again

Hurricane Fly may be getting a bit long in the tooth, but there was little sign of it in the Ryanair Hurdle last month. He comfortably saw off Jezki and Our Conor and is reported in good shape to take them on again on Sunday.

Willie Mullins revealed that the champion had suffered a bruised foot earlier in the week but that he had fully recovered and it is all systems go this weekend. Hurricane Fly is aiming to equal Istabraq’s record of four victories in the Leopardstown feature race.

With 18 Grade 1 wins and two Champion Hurdles under his belt, hopes are high that the ten-year-old can go on to become the oldest winner of the hurdling crown since Sea Pigeon in 1981. He is currently vying for favouritism with The New One and My Tent Or Yours who fought out the finish of the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton.

Jezki did not get the run of the race in the Ryanair with Tony McCoy having to switch around Our Conor to renew his challenge in the straight. He had too much ground to make up on Hurricane Fly but was only two and a half lengths down at the line.

Our Conor looked like a Champion hurdler in the making when he romped to a 15-length win in the Triumph Hurdle in March. The form of that race has not worked out well but Our Conor is entitled to strip fitter here.

The ante-post market for the Arkle Trophy could also be in for a shake-up after the Grade 1 Irish Arkle Chase at 1.30. Felix Younger and Defy Logic are both prominent in the betting and are set to clash on Sunday.

Defy Logic beat Trifolium and Champagne Fever here on Boxing Day and will be looking to cement his position at the head of the market. Felix Younger suffered his first defeat over fences at Limerick on the same day when beaten by The Paparrazi Kid.

A good quality field also includes his stable companion Mozoltov and last year’s County Hurdle winner Ted Veale.