Hurricane Fly looks a real live prospect for Champion Hurdle

ASCOT today was duly abandoned yesterday afternoon, so let’s start this week with a glance back at Fairyhouse on Wednesday.

Obviously, much of my focus was on Willie Mullins’ horses and I was especially impressed by Hurricane Fly in the Hatton’s Grace.

I thought it was a really great performance, given it was his first run of the season and he was able to beat Solwhit, who had an outing under his belt.

It’s relatively easy to sum up Hurricane Fly — he’s just a good horse. It was the first time Willie had a clear run with him and it showed.

He’s a real battler and has loads of speed. Hurricane Fly stayed two miles and three as a four-year-old in France and has now stayed two and a half in Ireland.

Essentially, he seems to have speed and stamina in abundance and is a real live Cheltenham prospect.

You couldn’t fail to be impressed by Zaidpour in the Royal Bond Novice Hurdle. You’d have to question the value of the race, but a horse can only deal with what is put in front of him.

He travelled like a steam engine through the contest and totally outclassed the opposition. Of course far greater tests lie ahead, but he will clearly do for now.

Mikael D’Haguenet was desperately unlucky to fall at the last in the Drinmore Chase. I watched the race several times yesterday and believe he crossed his legs and tripped himself.

He was a bit keen and buzzy to my eyes, but that was only to be expected, coming back off a break of 593 days. His jumping was very good and he even went across the last with aplomb.

I’d be surprised if he suffers any ill-effects from the fall and, from what I saw, all the old ability still seems to be there.

Golden Silver was terrific in the Hilly Way Chase and there’s no doubt this is a horse who continues on the upgrade. He will be nine in the New Year, but it seems as if there might be a lot more to come.

Cooldine disappointed me a little in the John Durkan, notwithstanding the fact the two and a half mile trip was short of his best.

He hasn’t become a bad horse overnight or anything like that, it’s just that I felt he should have been capable of finishing closer than he did.

I would say Thurles tomorrow offers the best chance of racing in Ireland this weekend and Willie Mullins has aimed all of his artillery at the meeting.

Wee Giant starts the ball rolling in a conditions hurdle and if the handicapper is right — he is the highest rated in the race — then he’ll nearly win.

He’s had one run over hurdles, at Downpatrick, and I won on him that day. He has run two nice races on the flat of late, so is good shape.

The handicapper, who doesn’t get much wrong, says he is worthy of a rating of 125, but I have little niggling doubts.

I like Secant Star and will be disappointed if he cannot win the Listed hurdle. He hasn’t been seen since bolting in at Gowran Park in January, but that’s not a worry the way Willie’s horses are performing.

He actually went to Cheltenham in March for the Triumph Hurdle, but didn’t look great and Willie decided against running him. Secant Star went round Punchestown recently.

Glenlo Abbey is no flying machine, but has plenty going for him in a section of the maiden hurdle. He was only eighth at Down Royal first time up this season, but ran far better than his placing might suggest and that came prior to Willie’s horses getting into full glow.

He will be a lot fitter tomorrow and the trip of two miles and six furlongs plus is ideal.

Willie runs once-raced Des Res in the bumper. His fourth at Kilbeggan in the summer is hardly a great recommendation.

That said, he is a real stayer in the making and I’d be confident if this was run over two and a half miles. I still feel, however, he will prove the one to beat.

Finally, if you can vote for AP McCoy, for the Sports Personality of the Year Award tomorrow night, please do. If ever a man deserved to win it is him.

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Saturday, January 23, 2021

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