Cheltenham Festival has been known to throw up a few surprises over the years, but the 2014 Champion Hurdle could be a foregone conclusion if Hurricane Fly continues to thrive at the highest level.
The Willie Mullins-trained horse has already made hurdling history in this event after reclaiming the title he won in 2011 from Rock On Ruby with victory last year.
It saw Hurricane Fly equal a feat only previously achieved by 1973 winner Comedy Of Errors who also returned to the winners’ enclosure after a year’s break that decade.
Since reclaiming the Champion Hurdle crown Mullins’ horse has gone from strength to strength.
He successfully equalled Kauto Star and John Henry’s record for Grade 1 wins with a 16th victory in the Punchestown equivalent in April, and with a hurdles race records that stands at eighteen wins, one second place and two third place finishes from 21 outings, there is every reason to think a repeat could be on the cards in 2014 with odds of 3/1 still available.
Mullins will certainly look to keep his charge fresh by restricting the number of races he enters his star performer in – a tactic that has paid dividends in previous years.
This was something he indicated in the wake of that Punchestown victory, in which Hurricane Fly cosily beat stablemate Thousand Stars by seven lengths.
Speaking to the Racing Post, Mullins said: “He hasn’t many miles on the clock, so we’ll keep him fresh and come back for the same races again.”
That win also saw Mullins score another victory over Rock On Ruby, who finished back in third and there is every reason to believe a repeat can occur come March.
With Hurricane Fly enjoying a perfect season in 2013, things are certainly on the up for this Cheltenham favourite.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing
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