By Simon Jackson
Ruby Walsh is upbeat about the chances of Hurricane Fly who bids to land his third Stan James Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham (3.20pm) on Tuesday.
The Willie Mullins trained 10-year-old first won the feature race of the opening day of the Cheltenham Festival in 2011. He secured the double in 2013 and has been in great form in recent months.
The winner of 23 of his 34 starts, that includes 19 Grade 1s, impressed at his last start when landing the BHP Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown where he finished ahead of Our Conor, Captain Cee Bee and Jezki who are all set to reoppose tomorrow.
“I rode Hurricane Fly this morning and he seems to be in good form,” Walsh said at Cheltenham today.
“He has obviously travelled over a good few times, so he knows what it is and you would be more worried about one of the younger horses that hasn’t travelled before. We are happy with him and have got him this far, so fingers crossed we can get him the rest of the way.
“The Champion Hurdle line-up is what it is – it was never going to be any different. He has been here and done it twice before and if we are being clinical about it, the others have got something to prove in a Champion Hurdle whereas he hasn’t. It looks as if Captain Cee Bee will make the running, but there could be a curveball or two.
“The Festival is just different to any other meeting. I don’t know if it’s the crowd, the atmosphere, or the expectation, but there is something magical about Cheltenham.”
Hurricane Fly continues to vie for favouritism with The New One for the big race tomorrow and is best priced at 3-1 in the maximum field of nine runners.
The 2014 Stan James Champion Hurdle
Class 1, Grade 1, £418,000 Total Prize Fund).
Captain Cee Bee (IRE) Edward Harty IRE 11st 10lb Mark Walsh
Grumeti Alan King 11st 10lb Wayne Hutchinson
Hurricane Fly (IRE) Willie Mullins IRE 11st 10lb Ruby Walsh
Jezki (IRE) (Hood) Jessica Harrington IRE 11st 10lb Barry Geraghty
Melodic Rendezvous Jeremy Scott 11st 10lb Nick Scholfield
My Tent Or Yours (IRE) Nicky Henderson 11st 10lb A P McCoy
Our Conor (IRE) Dessie Hughes IRE 11st 10lb Danny Mullins
Ptit Zig (FR) Paul Nicholls 11st 10lb Daryl Jacob
The New One (IRE) Nigel Twiston-Davies 11st 10lb Sam Twiston-Davies
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