Hurricane Fly to wait for Fairyhouse

HURRICANE FLY will miss his intended outing this weekend at Punchestown in the Grade 1 The Dobbins & Madigans at Punchestown Hurdle (Morgiana Hurdle).

The exciting hurdler had been expected to make his seasonal reappearance in Sunday’s race.

But trainer Willie Mullins said yesterday: “I just wasn’t quite happy with him and that persuaded me not to run him at the weekend.

“He will be entered up for the two-and-half-mile Hatton’s Grace Hurdle at Fairyhouse at the end of the month.”

A definite runner in the Dobbins & Madigans at Punchestown Hurdle is Voler La Vedette, who will be bidding for a fourth course win.

Colm Murphy’s talented mare made a successful reappearance there last month in her first race since April.

The six-year-old will now attempt to register her first Grade One victory.

“She’s done really well since her last race and I couldn’t be happier with her,” said the trainer

Meanwhile, Big Zeb is reported to be in tip-top shape following his triumphant return to action at Navan on Sunday.

The nine-year-old landed the Fortria Chase for the second successive year despite not having raced since winning the Queen Mother Champion Chase at Cheltenham on March.

Trainer Colm Murphy will now give his stable star a fairly easy time over the next couple of weeks before getting him razor sharp for the Paddy Power Dial-A-Bet Chase at Leopardstown on December 27.

“It was perfect and he’s good today, so I’m delighted,” said Murphy.

“It was a nice introduction to the season for him.

“We’ll keep him ticking over, freshen him up and all being well he’ll go to Leopardstown over Christmas.”

- BIG ZEB, Cape Blanco, Pathfork, Quevega, Rite of Passage and Sizing Europe are short-listed for Horse Racing Ireland’s prestigious Horse of the Year Award.

This is the eighth year of the prestigious scheme, with the winners decided on by the votes of the Irish racing media.

The winners will be announced on Monday, December 13.

2010 Awards Nominees

National Hunt Award: Charles Byrnes, Gigginstown House Stud, Willie Mullins, Ruby Walsh.

Flat Award: Michael Halford, Aidan O’Brien, Pat Smullen, Dermot Weld.

Outstanding Achievement: Gordon Elliot, Jessica Harrington, Eddie Lynam, Andrew Lynch, Paul Townend, Katie Walsh.

Point to Point Award: Colin Bowe , James Motherway, Derek O’Connor, Barry O’Neill.

Horse of the Year: Big Zeb, Cape Blanco, Pathfork, Quevega, Rite of Passage, Sizing Europe.

- HEY BIG SPENDER and Big Fella Thanks could both be Hennessy Gold Cup-bound after fighting out a thrilling finish to the Weatherbys Bank Graduation Chase at Carlisle yesterday.

The latter, fourth in last season’s Grand National, was making his first start for Ferdy Murphy having been switched from the care of champion trainer Paul Nicholls by his owner Harry Findlay.

Hey Big Spender, Colin Tizzard’s first ever runner at the Cumbrian track, was the first to commit for home of the pair, but he looked at the mercy of Big Fella Thanks as he cruised up to take the lead between the final two obstacles.

It seemed he had secured victory after jumping the final fence, but he wandered around on the run-in and 5-2 shot Hey Big Spender came back to score by a length.

Paddy Power clearly expect more improvement from Murphy’s charge, making him 14-1 and the winner 16s for the Newbury showpiece on November 27.

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