Fly can show his true form

Punchestown continues its battle with the elements this evening, housing a five-race card headed by the Rabobank Champion Hurdle, if the course passes an 8am inspection.

Hurricane Fly was way below-par in the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham and will be very much on retrieving mission in this valuable Grade 1.

He now faces two dangerous opponents in his stable companions Thousand Stars and Zaidpour and cannot afford a drop in standards a second time.

The eight-year-old had an air of invincibility about him heading to Prestbury Park in March, reminiscent of the great Istabraq.

But he began to struggle a fair way from home, before eventually claiming a rather remote third behind Rock On Ruby and Overturn.

We know that is not his true form, but until he goes and does it again on the track then doubts will persist.

Thousand Stars ran a cracker to finish fourth behind Big Buck’s at Cheltenham and then ran Oscar Whisky to a neck at Aintree.

Zaidpour was only eighth in the Champion Hurdle, but this versatile sort is far more effective in the mud and should not be underestimated.

The bottom line is that Hurricane Fly has to be the choice, on the basis Cheltenham was simply a blip and that he will return to his imperious best.

Felix Yonger is easily the highest-rated in the Grade 1 Cathal Ryan Memorial Champion Novice Hurdle and is the clear form choice, on his 7 lengths second to the brilliant Simonsig in the Neptune Investment Management Novices’Hurdle at Cheltenham.

But he may well be flattered by the bare details of that and preference is for Tony Martin’s Dedigout.

He looked a real talent in the early part of the season, but was most disappointing when only third to Monksland and Lyreen Legend at Naas in early January.

Martin then put him away, until producing Dedigout to defy 11-8 in a competitive handicap at Fairyhouse 18 days ago.

A lot more is required now, of course, but the selection shapes like a thorough stayer and that’s what is needed in spades here.

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