Willie Mullins may be Ireland’s most successful Cheltenham trainer but respect was in short supply as he prepared his feisty champion hurdler Hurricane Fly for yesterday’s renewal.
The hurricane that created the perfect storm became the first horse to regain the Champion Hurdle in 38 years as he showed substantial guts to go with his undoubted class at Cheltenham.
But the horse — “a fractious individual”, according to Mullins — gave the trainer a nasty shot in the rear end ahead of racing, leaving the Carlow handler sore but not sorry.
With Champagne Fever taking the Supreme Novices Hurdle, and Quevega making it five Mares’ Hurdles in a row, Mullins became the Irish trainer with most winners at the festival, passing Tom Dreaper’s mark of 26 on a day that he admitted would be “impossible to repeat”.
But of Hurricane Fly, he also revealed: “He’s like a colt, really. I gave him a final drink this morning. I never turn my back on him but I let my guard down and, put it this way, I’ll only be able to use one side of a bar stool tonight. It drew blood.
“He’s always up to something, but aggressiveness is part of his make-up.”
It was also a dream first day for Ruby Walsh followers with the 27/1 treble and our racing correspondent Pat Keane, who pointed punters the way of a four-timer.
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