Fly jets in for French Champion mission

Willie Mullins reports Hurricane Fly in rude health ahead of the legendary hurdler’s return to his homeland for the Grande Course de Haies d’Auteuil in Paris tomorrow.

Fly jets in for French Champion mission

The remarkable 11-year-old can count two Champion Hurdles at Cheltenham and five triumphs in the Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown among his record 22 Grade One victories and now gets the chance to add the French equivalent to his CV.

Hurricane Fly will make his first appearance in France in almost seven years in the near three-and-a-quarter-mile contest, having found old foe Jezki too strong on his latest appearance at the Punchestown Festival at the end of April.

Mullins said: “He seems real well and in good form.

“They always keep the ground fairly soft. They always water the track well and hopefully that will suit him.

“I’m very happy with him at the moment.”

Given his advancing years, it would be easy to conclude his French mission could be Hurricane Fly’s swansong, but retirement has not even crossed his trainer’s mind.

“All we’re thinking about is going over there to run and hoping he’ll run well,” said Mullins.

Hurricane Fly spearheads a three-pronged assault for the master of Closutton, with Thousand Stars and Val De Ferbet also in contention. Thousand Stars won this prestigious event in 2011 and 2012, while Val De Ferbet earned his place by filling the runner-up spot in last month’s Prix la Barka at the track.

Mullins said: “Katie Walsh gets on well with Thousand Stars and he always runs a good races over there. We’re just keeping our fingers crossed he can get some place money as I think it might be tough for him.His (Val De Ferbet) last run was very good and I’m expecting a big improvement, which puts him right in the firing line.”

David Pipe also has a strong hand, with stable jockey Tom Scudamore siding with Prix La Barka winner Ballynagour over stable companion Un Temps Pour Tout, the mount of James Reveley.

“They’re two very good horses, I think they’re rated the same,” said Pipe. “They both go there in good form. The ground is going to be on the softish side, but not bottomless, so I suppose that’s why Tom has gone for Ballynagour.

More in this section


Latest news from the world of sport, along with the best in opinion from our outstanding team of sports writers

Sign up

Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox