Hurricane Fly and Ruby Walsh did it again at Leopardstown on Sunday as a nail biting finish saw the Willie Mullins-trained wonder horse record a 19th Grade One triumph with victory in the Irish Champion Hurdle.
The Fly will now head to Cheltenham in March with the weight of the Irish nation riding on its shoulders after justifying favoritism and seeing off a late challenge from Our Conor in a thrilling finale.
It was an eighth victory from as many starts at Leopardstown for Hurricane Fly, who survived an injury scare earlier in the week to come through for another win.
“I just rode the race as I found it. In fairness to Hurricane, he quickened up well. He wasn’t great at the last, but when I got serious with him he found plenty. Stamina was never going to be an issue with him,” Walsh said.
“That was a huge relief. I have huge respect for the horse to do what he did, coming off the bit of work he did during the week,” Mullins said.
“If he had been an ordinary horse he wouldn’t have run today. It was his worst bit of work ever. I was so disappointed coming off the gallops. I was saying to myself, ‘Is the dream over with him and has he had enough?’
“Thankfully we found he had a bruised foot.a He seemed fine the next morning and he’s been fine since. We had to run and take our chance. We did all the tests on him and everything was coming back right.”
No Irish Need Apply? Not anymore