Hurricane Fly – “Quite simply the best hurdler I have ever sat on”
Willie Mullins announced on Monday morning that Hurricane Fly, one of the greatest hurdlers the world has ever seen is to be retired from racing.
Wearing the famous blue and green diamond silks, Hurricane Fly won 26 times, he won 22 grade ones, he won five champion hurdles in Ireland, two champion hurdles in England and a sprinkling of Morgiana hurdles on top. He was and simply is an incredible racehorse.
But let’s strip away the numbers, cut out the bare statistics and focus on the horse. What was most amazing, having trawled through hours of replays of ‘The Fly’ as he was lovingly known, was the sheer style of his wins. Throughout his career, Hurricane Fly has nearly always had a good opponent to beat. Thousand Stars, Solwhit, Our Connor, Jezki, Binocular and of course Rock On Ruby are but a few of the high class opponents to which Hurricane Fly constantly beat.
Of course, that’s not to say Hurricane Fly won every time. But in an age where an unbeaten record has become a rite of passage to legendary status, Hurricane Fly is living proof that a horse does not need to be undefeated to be held as one of the world’s greats. In fact, it’s arguable that his defeat in the 2012 champion hurdle by Rock On Ruby just intensified his glorious victory the following year. As he was steadily niggled along down the back straight, Rock On Ruby looked to be going much the best. However, with his never say never attitude, he quickly picked up the bit as they swung into the Cheltenham straight and soared clear to win a shade cosily in the 2013 champion hurdle.
After regaining his Cheltenham crown in 2013, Hurricane Fly went into the history books as only the second ever horse to have regained a champion hurdle.
In 2014, Hurricane Fly finished fourth behind his younger rivals and questions of retirement soon started to bubble. However, Walsh and Mullins remained adamant that the Fly was not finished and through the winter of 2014/5, he confirmed his supremacy in Ireland by defeating Jezki three times. It is perhaps fitting that Hurricane Fly’s last ever victory came at Leopardstown, the track he remains undefeated at winning all ten of his starts there.
In 2015, Hurricane Fly passed down his dominant crown to Faugheen, a real superstar in the making. He finished third in the Cheltenham champion hurdle having been written off against the likes of The New One and Jezki. He made it a 1-2-3 for trainer Willie Mullins and bowed out at Cheltenham a heroic great.
At the grand age of eleven, Hurricane Fly now gets to enjoy a retirement he so thoroughly deserves. It is perhaps fitting to end on the words of one of the greatest national hunt jockeys who partnered Hurricane Fly on 21 of his 29 starts – “Quite simply, Hurricane Fly is the best hurdler I have ever sat on.”