Boylesports.com have installed the Willie Mullins-trained Hurricane Fly as the 1/3 favourite for Sunday’s Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown.
He is also 7/2 favourite with Ireland’s largest independent bookmaker to land the Cheltenham Champion Hurdle. If you fancy him to win both then Boylesports are offering a price of 5/1 on the double.
Mullins holds three of the six remaining entries in Sunday’s ‘Champion’, his other possible runners being dual French Champion Hurdle winner Thousand Stars (8/1) and Zaidpour (8/1).
Mullins spoke of his superstar: “He’s more the horse he was two years ago, Last year I was never really happy with him. He wasn’t doing well, we never got him to the same pitch we got him to the year before.
“This year, I feel, he’s back to that. However, he’s two years older from when he won the Champion hurdle but his homework suggests he’s up to the same rating as he was two years ago.’’
While it is clear the main ambition for Hurricane Fly is to regain the Champion Hurdle, Mullins is not taking the Irish race to lightly either.
“The Irish Champion Hurdle is an extremely valuable and important race in its own right,’’ Mullins said at the official launch of the race in Dublin yesterday.
‘‘We’ve been fortunate enough with Hurricane Fly to win this race on two occasions and we’re looking forward to the race next Sunday. He’s a much more settled horse all round this year and he’ll have a very good chance.”
Hurricane Fly should manage to gain his 14th Grade 1 victory on Sunday.
The only remaining English runner in the field is Nicky Henderson’s 2010 Champion Hurdle winner Binocular (4/1), who has not run since finishing fourth (one place behind Hurricane Fly) in the renewal last March.
Tony McCoy wrote in his column in the Daily Telegraph: “It appears that Binocular, a horse for whom I have a huge soft spot having won the 2010 Champion Hurdle on him, now looks likely to make his reappearance in the Irish Champion Hurdle, at Leopardstown, on Jan 27.
“I am really looking forward to riding him again. He has not run since last year’s Champion Hurdle, when we finished fourth, but he is ready to go.”
While Oliver Brady’s One Cool Shabra (100/1) and 2008 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle winner Captain Cee Bee (25/1) complete the line-up.
Leon Blanche, Head of Communications at Boylesports, commented: “Hurricane Fly has been well-supported for the Cheltenham Champion Hurdle (7/2 from 5/1) since his easy victory in the Istabraq Hurdle last time out and he will be bidding for a third-consecutive Irish Champion Hurdle win on Sunday.”
He added: “The 2011 Champion Hurdle winner will bid to regain his Cheltenham crown in March and, if he is victorious, the Hurricane will create quite a storm at Boylesports!”
See Hurricane Fly’s 2011 Champion Hurdle victory here.
Boylesports BHP Insurance Irish Champion Hurdle Betting
Hurricane Fly, 1/3
Thousand Stars, 8/1
Captain Cee Bee, 25/1
One Cool Shabra, 100/1
Cheltenham Champion Hurdle update
Hurricane Fly 7/2
Rock On Ruby 8/1
Cinders And Ashes 16/1
Oscar Whisky 16/1