Hurricane Fly lays down Cheltenham marker

Hurricane Fly advanced his claims to regain his Cheltenham crown with a 13th Grade One triumph in the Istabraq Festival Hurdle at Leopardstown.

Hurricane Fly lays down Cheltenham marker

Hurricane Fly advanced his claims to regain his Cheltenham crown with a 13th Grade One triumph in the Istabraq Festival Hurdle at Leopardstown.

The 2011 Stan James Champion Hurdle hero went on to win at Prestbury Park after claiming this race and is now 9-2 from 5-1 with the sponsors to repeat the feat.

Willie Mullins’ ace allowed his stablemate Thousand Stars to do the donkey work before Ruby Walsh asked him to stride on after the second last.

The 1-5 shot then stretched away for a seven-length verdict from Unaccompanied. Thousand Stars stayed on again to claim third.

“We’re delighted with that, not just with the win but by the way he settled,” said Mullins.

“He was easier to lead around the ring beforehand and Ruby said he settled beautifully throughout the race.

“He’s a much more settled horse all round this year, with age and racing. He will come back here for the Irish Champion Hurdle before going to Cheltenham.

“If we can get him back to Cheltenham in the same form that he’s in now, he’ll have a very good chance.”

Mullins’ son Patrick broke the long-standing record for the most wins in a calendar year by an Irish amateur with a double.

He went one ahead of Billy Parkinson, who rode 72 winners way back in 1915, when steering home Zuzka for his father in the IBTA Fillies Scheme EBF Mares Hurdle.

Jumping into the lead at the second-last, the 11-10 favourite quickened clear to score by six and a half lengths from Burn And Turn.

“To achieve the record on the second last day of the year was extra special,” said the rider.

“I was lucky enough to equal it a couple of weeks back but I was beginning to wonder of I’d ever get to 73 winners!

“I owe it all to Dad of course. We had such a great summer and it wasn’t until September that we thought there might be a chance of making an attempt at the record.

“I have to thank Ruby as well as he let me ride Zuzka today. I’m just lucky to be in a position to ride these horses.”

His proud father said: “It is fantastic and I am delighted for Patrick. I would like to thank all our owners who have supported him over the year.

“It is an extraordinary record and it will be hard to see it beaten.”

The amateur capped a memorable day with an easy win on Outlander (9-4 favourite) in the Thornton’s Recycling Flat Race to give his father a treble.

Lord Windermere overcame trouble in running to open his account over fences in the Ballymaloe Country Relish Beginners Chase.

Jim Culloty’s charge was squeezed for room on the turn for home and had to be switched to the far rail by jockey Tom Doyle to make his bid.

Once the 9-4 favourite saw daylight, he negotiated the final fence in good style and kept on strongly to beat Marasonnien by two lengths.

Culloty said: “He ran two blinding races over fences before this. He’ll get three miles in time but, on this ground, I didn’t want to subject him to a gruelling race.

“He handles that ground well, and I won’t run him on fast ground. He’s got a bright future.”

Sizing Gold (4-6) justified his short price with a convincing win in the Ryans Cleaning Maiden Hurdle.

Asserting his superiority from the second last in the hands of Andrew Lynch, he was not hard pressed to score by three lengths from Morning Assembly.

Trainer Henry de Bromhead said: “I’d imagine he’ll go for a novice race next over two and a half miles plus, but we’ve no big targets for him over hurdles.

“He’s a dour stayer and one to look forward to over fences.”

Prince Rudi (20-1) headed the long-time leader Whodoyouthink on the run-in to lift the Pertemps Handicap Hurdle (Qualifier) under 3lb claimer Ian McCarthy.

The Gordon Elliott-trained Tarquinius (9-2) made virtually all the running to take the Martinstown Opportunity Handicap Chase by 10 lengths under Keith Donoghue.

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