Willie Mullins: Three miles shouldn’t be a problem for Hurricane Fly

Willie Mullins does not expect the step up to three miles to trouble Hurricane Fly as he tests his powers over the staying distance for the first time in today’s Ladbrokes World Series Hurdle.

Willie Mullins: Three miles shouldn’t be a problem for Hurricane Fly

The 11-year-old brought the house down when clinching his fifth Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown in January, his 22nd Grade One overall, but he had to make do with minor honours when third behind younger stable companion Faugheen in the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham last month.

Rather than letting the pair lock horns once more at Punchestown, Hurricane Fly rises in trip in a fascinating contest and Mullins is looking forward to seeing how he fares.

“Hurricane Fly is in great form,” said the champion trainer.

“Discussing it with the owners, it (World Series Hurdle) was something they thought they might go for.

“Remember he won over two and a half miles as a four-year-old in France and we thought over the years three miles wouldn’t be a problem.

“It just depends on his temperament on the day. Sometimes he can be very keen, if it’s a slow-run race, but I think the trip is no problem.

“I think he deserves a crack at it and we’ll know where we are going as regards the future.”

Mullins also runs Zaidpour and the admirable grey Thousand Stars.

The latter ran with great credit when runner-up behind Dedigout at Fairyhouse earlier in the month on what was his first start since June.

“It surprised me how well he ran in Fairyhouse,” said Mullins.

“He has a huge fan club and he is just a lovely horse in the stable.”

The Closutton trio feature in a 12-strong field, with Hurricane Fly’s old rival Jezki also tackling three miles for the first time.

He was fourth when defending his Champion Hurdle crown at Cheltenham, but got back on the winning trail over the intermediate distance of two and a half miles in the Aintree Hurdle.

Trainer Jessica Harrington also runs last year’s winner Jetson, who is Jezki’s half-brother but has disappointed at Cheltenham and Aintree, as well as outsider Ttebbob.

“I’m very excited to be running the two brothers and we’ll see what happens,” said Harrington.

“Jezki seems fresh and well. I’ve been happy with him since Aintree. Jetson hasn’t run his race the last twice and we can’t find any reason for it, but he did win this race last year. Ttebbob is a good horse. Hopefully he runs well, too.”

Leading owners Gigginstown House Stud are doubly represented with Dedigout and Lieutenant Colonel in contention. Dedigout completed a hat-trick when beating Thousand Stars at Fairyhouse, but has a well documented preference for testing conditions.

Lieutenant Colonel won the Hatton’s Grace and the Christmas Hurdle earlier this season, but disappointed in the World Hurdle at Cheltenham.

Gigginstown’s manager, Eddie O’Leary, said: “Dedigout has done well this year, but he’d need a lot of rain. There is rain forecast, so we’ll see what happens.

“Lieutenant Colonel wore cheekpieces at Cheltenham and it didn’t suit him. Hopefully taking them off him tomorrow will be a help. It’s a good race, it’s all in the melting pot and we’ll see what happens.”

Dedigout’s trainer Tony Martin also runs I Shot The Sheriff , who steps up in grade following consecutive victories.

Captainofthefleet, Lots Of Memories and Zabana complete the field.

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Join us for a special evening of Cheltenham chat on Friday March 12 at 6.30pm with racing legend and Irish Examiner columnist Ruby Walsh, Irish Examiner racing correspondent Tommy Lyons, and former champion jockey and tv presenter Mick Fitzgerald, author of Better than Sex.

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