Hurricane Fly bounces back to winning ways
Report: Punchestown, Friday
Rabobank Champion Hurdle (Grade 1) 2m 4yo+
HURRICANE FLY completed a hat-trick in this contest, regaining the winning thread having finished third in the defence of his crown at Cheltenham.
The Ruby Walsh-ridden odds-on favourite took up the running approaching the last and quickened clear of Zaidpour (Paul Townend), with Willie Mullins's third runner Thosuand Stars (Katie Walsh) next.
The Real Article, who was always in rear, trailed home last of the four runners.
Walsh was content to sit at the back for most of the race with Hurricane Fly, who started 4-11, moving into contention only at the second last, when the tempo quickened.
The eight-year-old powered clear to win by three and a half lengths to record his 15th success.
Zaidpour found this race easier than the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham, in which he was eighth, but Thousand Stars may have been feeling the effects of making the running when push came to shove.
Paddy Power left Hurricane Fly unchanged as 11-2 favourite for the 2013 Stan James Champion Hurdle.
Mullins said of Hurricane Fly on At The Races: "I was worried passing the winning post on the first circuit as he was not enjoying the sticky ground.
"He'd had a hard race at Cheltenham last time but it's great now that he will have his confidence back with the win today."
Mullins added that Zaidpour and Thousand Stars would head to Auteuil. "Zaidpour ran a cracker; they both put up really good performances," the trainer said.