RUBY WALSH: History beckons for Fly

NEW CAREER: Champagne Fever  graduates to the chasing ranks  at Punchestown today.

This weekend is all about making history, about getting Hurricane Fly to land a record 17th Grade 1 in the Morgiana Hurdle at Punchestown tomorrow.<

Only Hurricane Fly and Kauto Star have ever won 16 Grade 1's over jumps and John Henry, in America, is the only horse to do it on the flat.

The defection of Jezki from the Morgiana yesterday morning has certainly made the task facing Hurricane Fly a whole lot easier.

Regular readers of the column will know that my admiration for this horse knows no bounds.

Hurricane Fly is just wonderful, has won his last six races and has been beaten just once in his last fourteen outings.

He has the exact same qualities as Kauto Star, the ability to win Grade 1s when not in peak form.

I have said before that the British have never seen Hurricane Fly at his best, even though he has won two Champion Hurdles at Cheltenham. Why that is I simply don't know.

Anyway, he's in great order, working well and, as far as I am concerned, is my number one priority over the next two days, with everything else regarded as a bonus.

I start tomorrow aboard the potentially exciting Faugheen in a two-mile and six maiden hurdle.

He took a point-to-point, before producing a stunning display in a bumper at Punchestown in May, winning by 22 lengths.

David Casey schooled him recently, was very happy and the plan is to get his jumping career on the track off to the perfect start.

Willie Mullins has three of the eight runners in a Grade 2 novice chase and I've gone with Felix Yonger.

He was the best of the three over flights and is a useful horse, but I think we are all up against it taking on Paul Nolan's Defy Logic, who was so impressive on his debut over fences at Naas.

I'm delighted to team up again with Morning Assembly for Pat Fahy in another Grade 2 novice chase.

I rode him to win at Punchestown last month and he greatly impressed me. Morning assembly has to take on Don Cossack now and he continues to have a big reputation. You certainly couldn't fault Don Cossack on his first outing over fences at Galway, but I still would not swap Morning Assembly.

I finish on City Slicker for Willie in a competitive handicap hurdle. He ended last season on the right note, taking his maiden on this track, but is a puzzling, frustrating sort and I'm just hoping for the best.

I have plenty to keep me occupied at Punchestown today, starting with Analifet in the three-year-old hurdle.

It was hard to choose between her and Willie's other horse, Noble Inn, but the 7lbs mares' allowance swayed me towards Analifet.

She scored at Compiegne in France last May, while I rode Noble Inn to win quite nicely at Ballinrobe. I doubt there is much between the pair and I'm just hoping I've got this right.

Glens Melody is a really good mare and I have to think will go close in the four-runner conditions hurdle.

She was a solid money-spinner last season, ending her campaign when taking a Grade 1 at the Punchestown festival in April. She is going nicely at home and seems to have got stronger.

Besides Hurricane Fly, the horse I am most looking forward to for the weekend is Champagne Fever in the beginners chase today.

I just think he is a hell of a good horse. I schooled him this week and he jumped super.

I know he was well beaten when third to Jezki at the Punchestown festival, but had given everything when taking the Supreme Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham and that's not a worry.

I rode a winner for Paul Nolan, Noble Prince, at Thurles recently and he has nodded in my direction for King Vuvuzela in a handicap chase.

Bryan Cooper won on him last time out at Punchestown and I'm sure would have got the call again, but has to travel to Cheltenham.

King Vuvuzela more than caught eye at Punchestown and, despite going up 14lbs, I'd say won't be far away.

Sure Reef is my last ride in a two and a half mile maiden hurdle. This will be his first outing for Willie and his first since winning on the flat since for Michael Halford at Leopardstown in October of last year.

He is fit, jumps well and should stay. But, realistically, it is his first run for a while and his initial pop over jumps in public, so let's not get too carried away.

Willie is sending some horses to Cork tomorrow and one of them definitely worth noting is the French-import, Valseur Lido, in a maiden hurdle. He was last seen about a year ago when winning a bumper in France at a track called Lyon parilly.

Valseur Lido is owned by Gigginstown House Stud and Davy Russell liked the four-year-old when having a sit on him of late.

Two others of Willie's who have a life are the progressive Upsie over flights and Rathvinden in the bumper.

Rathvinden is particularly interesting, considering he will carry the Simonsig colours of Ronnie Bartlett.


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