If the real Hurricane turns up he will win

I want to start by describing what Punchestown achieved on Wednesday as quite brilliant.

The weather was atrocious and the fact they managed to salvage five races was a terrific performance.

The ground staff were great, as was the management and Brendan Sheridan and Val O’Connell.

It was a bad situation, but they got on with it and free of any moaning. It is a pity a lot of the rest of the country doesn’t follow suit. If I could give everyone at Punchestown 11 out of 10 I’d do so!

Today is all about Hurricane Fly and whether he can leave a disappointing effort at Cheltenham behind in the Rabobank Champion Hurdle.

His display at Cheltenham was inexplicable, because he went there in fine shape and with all guns blazing.

But the spark was sadly missing and he never carried me through the race at all in the way I expected.

That was in complete contrast to the year before, when I had a job settling the horse. There was certainly no problem settling him on this occasion.

I sat on Hurricane Fly at Willie Mullins’ last week and he gave me a good feel. He looks well at the moment and is working well.

Willie has a strong hand with three of the four runners, Quevega was only left in as a precaution in case yesterday was called off at some stage, and his Thousand Stars and Zaidpour have to be respected.

Thousand Stars is a cracking sort and I’d love to own him. He is very reliable, only takes on the best of opposition and wins the odd Grade 1.

I must confess, however, that I fear Zaidpour more, even if he was only eighth behind Rock On Ruby in the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham.

I used to ride a horse called Nickname for Martin Brassil and Zaidpour reminds me of him. Nickname loved sloppy, heavy ground and Zaidpour is the same.

The surface at Cheltenham was too fast for him and he is an entirely different horse when meeting ground like this.

At Cheltenham, Willie’s horses were in-and-out and Hurricane Fly was out. If the real Hurricane turns up he will win. If he doesn’t then it will be no surprise to me should Zaidpour take advantage.

The Ryanair Novice Chase is the first race on the card, having originally been scheduled to be run yesterday.

Shot From The Hip is an addition to the field, with Nearest The Pin missing the race, but my thoughts on how it might pan out have not changed.

Menorah jumped well, for a change, when winning at Aintree, but I still favour First Lieutenant.

As I said here yesterday, if he is what Davy Russell and Mouse Morris think, the real deal, then will cope with dropping down to two miles, after finishing second over three to Bobs Worth in the RSA Chase at Cheltenham.

I’m on Felix Yonger in the Champion Novice Hurdle. He was second to Simonsig at Cheltenham, after getting a very clever ride from Paul Townend.

I won on him at Naas and Downpatrick before that, but whether he will handle ground as heavy as this I just don’t know.

My last ride comes on Terminal in another novice hurdle. The ex-French horse did it nicely for me at Navan, but then was a poor third of four to Galileo’s Choice at Fairyhouse.

I don’t know why he performed so poorly at Fairyhouse, but is working well at the moment and has a chance, in a race which doesn’t look the hottest.

Willie runs two newcomers in the bumper for mares, Chiltern Hill, who is by Beneficial, and Tasitiocht, a daughter of Oscar. Neither of them is very big and may struggle in the conditions.

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