Stan James Champion Hurdle - Tue March 15th 2011 

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Hurricane Fly Storms to Champion Hurdle Victory

1 Hurricane Fly 11/4 Fav
2 Peddlers Cross 9/2
3 Oscar Whisky 7/1
11 ran Distances: 1¼l, 5l, 2l
TIME 3m 53.71s (slow by 1.71s)

Trainer Willie Mullins followed in the footsteps of his father Paddy today by winning the Stan James Champion Hurdle.

Hurricane Fly
© Grossick Racing Photography

Hurricane Fly

Hurricane Fly became Willie’s first success in one of the Cheltenham Festival’s championship races, and emulated Paddy’s achievement with Dawn Run, who won in 1984.

The successful trainer said: “I’m delighted to follow my dad. One thing he taught me was to have patience with good horses. You have to be prepared to wait and wait, and we’ve done that on occasions during Hurricane Run’s career.

“When he led on the run-in today I’d like to think he [Paddy] was there urging us on.”

He revealed that Hurricane Fly was not top of his shopping list when, in 2007, he instructed a France-based bloodstock agent, to buy a targeted horse. Mullins said: “We put in an offer for a horse, but the next morning the agent rang me and said we’d been gazumped, and that someone had offered more money. However, they said another horse was available, and they really liked him. It was far more money than we wanted to pay, but we agreed - that was Hurricane Fly, while the other horse is now running in handicaps.”

Hurricane Fly, a son of top stallion Montjeu, wore ear plugs in today’s race, and Mullins said: “When he came to us he was very hyper, and it would certainly have been a big challenge to bring him to an event like this as a four-year-old, but under our training regime he gradually settled down. He’s worn ear plugs in just about all his races, but he’s a lot more mature now in any case.

“He’s not very big and he’s not earmarked to go over fences, but if he stays injury free he will come back here. I haven’t thought about immediate plans for him, but it’s only three weeks to Aintree and I doubt he’ll come back for that. We’re much more likely to wait for Punchestown.”

Hurricane Run had missed the past two Festivals with a suspensory injury and then a splint, and Mullins said: “They were not serious, but bad timing. They meant we had to give him time off, miss Cheltenham but get back for Punchestown. This time we had a clear run, and I’ve been pinching myself for the past month because everything was going right.”


Starting Price
Beaten Distance
Hurricane Fly
W P Mullins
R Walsh
11st 10lbs
11 - 4
Peddlers Cross
D McCain Jnr
J M Maguire
11st 10lbs
9 - 2
1 1/4 length
Oscar Whisky
N J Henderson
B J Geraghty
11st 10lbs
7 - 1
5 lengths
Thousand Stars
W P Mullins
P Townend
11st 10lbs
33 - 1
2 lengths
P J Hobbs
R Johnson
11st 10lbs
3 - 1
1 1/4 length
Clerk's Choice
M Banks
T Molloy
11st 10lbs
50 - 1
2 lengths
D McCain Jnr
G Lee
11st 10lbs
40 - 1
5 lengths
P Fenton
B T O'Connell
11st 10lbs
10 - 1
3/4 length
Khyber Kim
N A Twiston-Davies
P J Brennan
11st 10lbs
12 - 1
1/2 length
Bygones Of Brid
Karen McLintock
T J Murphy
11st 10lbs
200 - 1
10 lengths
Mille Chief
A King
R Thornton
11st 10lbs
16 - 1
1/2 length



Peddlers Cross
© Racehorse Photos

Peddlers Cross

Peddlers Cross lost his unbeaten record with a brave second behind Hurricane Fly in the Stan James Champion Hurdle.

Donald McCain’s stable star landed the Neptune Investment Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival 12 months earlier and returned to the track unbeaten in six starts over hurdles.

The mount of Jason Maguire came close to extending that winning run but found Willie Mullins’ Hurricane Fly pulling a length and a quarter clear after jumping the final flight upsides.

An emotional McCain said: “I am not a bad loser but I am just gutted for the horse.

“Jason said that Peddlers Cross did not do a thing wrong through the race but was just not good enough on the day.

“There are no excuses and he has found one too good. I have to say well done to Willie.

“It was a hell of a race and he came for another go at the winner after the final flight.

“I could not be prouder and I did think we had a good crack of winning the Champion Hurdle beforehand.

“He has had the hardest race of his life today in defeat so we’ll see how he comes out of this before making plans.

“Aintree is a possibility but I don’t know what we will do next season.”

Jason Maguire added: “He still tried after the last to come back which is why he is such a good horse. I am looking forward to jumping a fence on Peddlers Cross. Hopefully, he will go to Aintree now for the two and a half mile hurdle.”



1. The Champion Hurdle was inaugurated in 1927, with a value to the winner of £365. The race was abandoned in 1931 due to persistent frost, in 1943 and 1944 because of the Second World War, and in 2001 because of foot and mouth disease.

2. There have only been three sponsors of this great race since its inception. Waterford Crystal backed the contest from 1978 to 1990 while the Smurfit Group sponsored the race from 1991 to 2010. Stan James is the new sponsor in 2011.

3. The largest field has been 24 (1964 and 1991) and the smallest three (1932). The first five runnings of the race saw a total of only 24 runners between them. The current safety limit is 28.

4. The Stan James Champion Hurdle is a contest for multiple winners. Peter Easterby and Nicky Henderson are the race’s most successful trainers, with five wins each. Easterby’s victories came courtesy of Saucy Kit (1967), Night Nurse (1976 and 1977) and Sea Pigeon (1980 and 1981). Nicky Henderson’s five victories so far have come with See You Then (1985, 1986 and 1987), Punjabi (2009) and Binocular (2010).

5. Among jockeys, Tim Molony won the race most often with four victories, on Hatton’s Grace (1951) and Sir Ken (1952, 1953 & 1954). Tony ( A P) McCoy is the most successful current jockey with three wins aboard Make A Stand (1997), Brave Inca (2006) and Binocular (2010).

6. The most successful owners are Dorothy Paget, who won the race four times thanks to Insurance (1932, 1933), Solford (1940) and Distel (1946), and J P McManus, who owned triple winner Istabraq (1998, 1999 and 2000) and Binocular (2010).

7. Istabraq, successful in the three Champion Hurdles from 1998 to 2000, was retired after failing to become the first horse to win the race four times in 2002. The four other three-time winners are Hatton’s Grace (1949-51), Sir Ken (1952-54), Persian War (1968-70) and See You Then (1985-87).

8. The race has been won seven times by entires, but only twice by mares - Dawn Run (1984) and Flakey Dove (1994).

9. Four greys have won, the most recent being Rooster Booster in 2003. The others were Kribensis in 1990, , Our Hope in 1938 and Victor Norman in 1936. Only one roan horse has won the Champion Hurdle, Anzio in 1962.

10. Istabraq’s success in 2000 in a time of 3 minutes 48.1 seconds beat the previous Champion Hurdle record time, set by Make A Stand in 1997, of 3 minutes 48.4 seconds.

11. Dessie Hughes, who trained Hardy Eustace to win in 2004 and 2005, is only the fourth person to have both ridden and trained a Stan James Champion Hurdle winner, having partnered Monksfield in 1979. The others to have achieved this double were Fred Winter, Fred Rimell and Gerry Wilson.

12. As part of the Stan James sponsorship, the bookmaker is backing three races leading to the Stan James Champion Hurdle:

November 27, 2010 – The Fighting Fifth Hurdle – Newbury (due to abandonment of Newcastle) – won by Peddlers Cross

December 11, 2010 – The International Hurdle – Cheltenham – won by Menorah

January 22, 2011 – The Champion Hurdle Trial – Haydock Park

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