Hurricane Fly triumphs in Punchestown Champion Hurdle


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Hurricane Fly landed the Rabobank Champion Hurdle to give trainer Willie Mullins his ninth winner of this week's Punchestown Festival.

It was another big race win at the meeting for jockey Paul Townend after his Champion Chase and World Series Hurdle wins on Tuesday and Thursday.

Hurricane Fly, rated at 3-1, got up in the final strides to beat last year's winner Solwhit (5-1) by a neck.

Another Mullins challenger Thousand Stars (20-1) took third.

Hurricane Fly looked to have the hurdling world at his feet after a superb novice season, which culminated in a runaway success at this meeting 12 months ago.

However, the six-year-old has been off the track since November because of injury and missed last month's Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham.

Solwhit proved a tough nut to crack at the head of affairs and looked as though he would take the glory again before Hurricane Fly's late burst.

Mullins said: "Paul rode him very confidently and they didn't go a particularly fast pace, it was slow early on and that probably helped us.

"He's been doing everything right and not missed a beat for the last four weeks, but I was worried that he might have needed to get away for a second piece of work.

"Paul's main job today was to get the horse settled, which he did, and then just ride his race.

"He looked beaten at the last but his class pulled him through."


Rabobank Champion Hurdle (Punchestown)
1. Hurricane Fly (P Townend) 3-1 fav
2. Solwhit (D Russell) 5-1
3. Thousand Stars (Miss K Walsh) 20-1
11 ran. Dist: Neck