Young guns set to renew Fly rivalry

Hurricane Fly, Jezki and Our Conor, the respective first three home in the Ryanair Hurdle over Christmas, are among seven entries for the BHP Insurance Irish Champion Hurdle back at Leopardstown on January 26.

Young guns set to renew Fly rivalry

Hurricane Fly will be bidding for an amazing 19th Grade One victory and, in an ominous warning to his younger rivals, trainer Willie Mullins predicts there is even more to come from the 10-year-old, who has won the Irish Champion for the last three years.

“He seems to be in great form and he has come out of his race at Christmas well,” said the County Carlow handler.

“This race was always the plan for him and I think there is a bit more improvement to come.”

Jessica Harrington’s Jezki performed admirably taking on the champion for the first time and may have finished even closer, but for meeting a little trouble in running.

Frank Berry, racing manager for owner JP McManus, said: “He ran a good race the last day and he has come out of it well and we are looking forward to running him again later on this month.”

Danny Mullins, who rides the Dessie Hughes-trained Our Conor, expects his mount to improve after the partnership finished third in the Ryanair.

He said: “It was his first run of the season and I think he will improve a good bit from that. He jumped the last upsides ’The Fly’, and not too many horses do that.

“He is the best hurdle horse that I have ridden. It was a true-run race the last day and they didn’t hang around.

“My horse was having his first run over hurdles since March so I’d expect him to come on a good bit for the run.”

Mullins can also chose from two exciting unbeaten prospects in Annie Power and Un De Sceaux - as well as the veteran Thousand Stars.

Eddie Harty’s Captain Cee Bee is the only other entry.

Don Cossack meanwhile is being targeted at the Dr PJ Moriarty Novice Chase at Leopardstown on February 9.

Gordon Elliott’s seven-year-old claimed the Grade One prize he has long promised when edging out Carlingford Lough in the Drinmore Novice Chase at Fairyhouse at the start of December.

That form looks strong after the runner-up landed Leopardstown’s Topaz Novice Chase over the Christmas period.

Don Cossack will now go in search of further top-level honours on Irish Hennessy Gold Cup day.

Elliott said: “Don Cossack is in good form and we’re aiming him at the Moriarty.

“His form is working out well, so we’re looking forward to running him.”

Elliott has yet to make any plans for Mount Benbulben, who ran respectably to finish fourth in the King George VI Chase at Kempton, despite jumping mistakes which have become a feature of his career.

“He came out of Kempton well, but I’m not sure where we’ll go with him,” said the County Meath trainer.

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