By Simon Jackson.
Willie Mullins has given an upbeat report about the well-being of Hurricane Fly ahead of his bid to secure a third victory in the Stan James Champion Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.
Hurricane Fly has contested the Champion Hurdle four times, winning the two mile hurdling crown in 2011 and 2013 and finishing third in 2012 and fourth last year.
The 11-year-old has been in superb form this season, winning all of his three starts at Grade 1 level. He is currently best-priced at 8-1 behind stablemate and even-money favourite Faugheen for the feature race on the first day of the Festival.
“Hurricane Fly has done everything right this season,” Mullins said on Wednesday at a stable visit for the media, organised by Cheltenham racecourse.
“If he was two or three years younger, he would definitely be favourite as he has done everything a clear favourite should have.
“People say he can’t win because of his age but he is class. Some people say he doesn’t run his best in Cheltenham but I am not so sure. He has won two Stan James Champion Hurdles from four starts and I think I had two good excuses for the times he got beaten.
“When he was really right going into Cheltenham, he has won. Horses have to be really right on the day or they will struggle. I felt going into his last two runs last season that he wasn’t sparking as he can – he was just going through the motions.
“So far this year, he has not shown any of those signs. Paul Townend rides him and is a great indicator. He can tell me down to the ants how the horse is training and is giving me positive feedback all the time.
“It would be my dream result for the whole of Cheltenham if Hurricane Fly could win a third Champion Hurdle. He is our king but if Faugheen rises and wins it, then there is obviously great potential there to win another.”
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