Cheltenham Festival 2012 

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Hurricane Fly Out To Replicate Last Season's Glories

Hurricane Fly, the winner of the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham in March is set to make his seasonal debut in a few weeks time in the Morgiana Hurdle at Punchestown on 20th November in what is believed to be the start of a similar route to Cheltenham that he took 12 months ago, which could see the seven year old race up to five times before the Festival in March.

Hurricane Fly

Hurricane Fly

In winning all six of his starts last season, the Willie Mullins trained runner has attracted much attention and as is often the case with promising horses, pundits and punters begin to label them potential greats.

Whether Hurricane Fly has the potential to beat Istabraq's three Champion Hurdler wins between 1998-2000 remains to be seen but he certainly looks the part; he is young enough to win at least two more Champion Hurdles provided he can stay injury free but it is difficult to get too excited after so many Champion Hurdle winners have failed to reproduce the following year.

After the race in November, it is almost certain that he will next be seen in the Grade One Hatton Grace at Fairyhouse in December, a race he won last year in assertive fashion with a 1½ length gap between him and Solwhit at the end. This race proved that Hurricane Fly was also able to win Grade One Hurdle races over 2½ miles, although he has not been tried at that trip since.

Next up will be the Grade One, Festival Hurdle at Leopardstown's Christmas meeting. He also won this race last year on very heavy ground, confirming his versatility to handle a variety of conditions.

His final warm up race for Cheltenham last season was the Grade One Irish Champions Hurdle also at Leopardstown and it he will no doubt look to land back-to-back renewals of this race too. Last season he won this in emphatic style, beating Solwhit for the fourth time running by nearly four lengths.

That should prepare him nicely for the defence of his Champion Hurdle crown and provided his form remains good, he is likely to end the season at the Punchestown Festival where he will bid to land a third Rabobank Champion Hurdle title.

The question is whether he is good enough to live up to the hype? The bookmakers certainly rate his chances, offering just 7/4 to win the Champion Hurdle at the 2012 Cheltenham Festival with the remainder of the rivals double figures and more...

What's more, the 7/4 about him now is almost certain to shorten as the season progresses if he lives up to the hype. A number of young pretenders will no doubt emerge, none more so than the promising Novice hurdlers from last season, including the Triumph Hurdle winner Zarkandar and Supreme Novices first and second Al Ferof and Spirit Son but any of these would have to be incredibly special to match the form of Hurricane Fly at his best and he never did win all out!

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