Rabobank Champion Hurdle 2012  

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Third Rabobank Champion Hurdle for Hurricane Fly

1 Hurricane Fly 4/11F
2 Zaidpour 9/2
3 Thousand Stars 7/1
NR: Quevega (FR)
4 ran Distances: 2½l, 6l, 37l
TIME 4m 10.50s (slow by 24.50s)

Hurricane Fly led home a 1-2-3 for trainer Willie Mullins when winning his third consecutive Grade 1 Rabobank Champion Hurdle but the 4/11 favourite was more workmanlike rather than majestic when beating Zaidpour by two and a half lengths. Stablemate Thousand Stars was six lengths further back in third.

Hurricane Fly
© Caroline Norris

Hurricane Fly

“His class won the race for him,” said Mullins. “Although he did the job once Ruby sent him on, he only just did enough there. Maybe the ground was a bit tacky for him, sometimes as horses get older they get a preference for different ground.

“Perhaps we’ll have to ride and train him differently next season. We’d always been trying to get him to settle because he can be so keen and we’ve probably done it too well now as he gets older. I think he settled too well at Cheltenham.

“The run at Leopardstown took quite a lot out of him and he had a hard race at Cheltenham as well, so maybe he was thinking of that today. This win will have done his confidence good as he’s by Montjeu and they do think a bit.

“We’ll try and get him out earlier next season and do what we did with him the previous year.

“The other two ran crackers and Zaidpour had both ears pricked and I thought turning for home that he might flip things up. He might run again at Auteuil as could Thousand Stars who was full of running at the third last and, after a tough season, he still looked magnificent in the parade ring despite going everywhere.”

Jockey Ruby Walsh added: "I'm relieved. From the time we jumped the first hurdle I was never, shall we say, happy. He went to post grand and all the rest but, from when we jumped the first hurdle to when we jumped the second, I was thinking 'Jeez, I'd want to be going as well as I'm going here' and halfway down the back I was kind of thinking to myself, 'I wouldn't mind being on Zaidpour' but in fairness to him (Hurricane Fly), pure raw ability and guts has won it for him.

“I wouldn't say he's anywhere near the horse that won in Leopardstown (Irish Champion Hurdle, January) he was more like the horse than ran in Cheltenham to be honest with you. He was lethargic in Cheltenham, he was lethargic again today but pure ability has won him the day. When horses run as flat as he ran today, they don't win unless they're exceptional and he did. He got caught out in Cheltenham but he won today and, with a summer’s grass now to freshen him up, he'll be the horse we saw last year."

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