RUBY WALSH has hailed Hurricane Fly as “the best hurdler I have ever sat on” following the retirement of the two-time Champion Hurdle winner.
An astonishing 22 of the horse’s 24 wins were at Grade One level, including two unforgettable Cheltenham successes in 2011 and 2013.
Trained by Willie Mullins, the son of Montjeu earned connections nearly £1.9m in prize-money and the 11-year-old had his final career start in the French Champion Hurdle at Auteuil in June when he was a remote sixth.
“Quite simply, Hurricane Fly is the best hurdler I have ever sat on. The only hurdler you can compare him to in my lifetime is Istabraq,” said Walsh, who won this year’s Champion Hurdle on Faugheen.
“The Fly was back in training and still looks a million dollars. But the bold and brave choice had to be made on whether to retire him or go on for another season. But I’m sure when the news sinks in fully, it was the right decision.
“He was as good as ever last season and was still winning proper Grade Ones contests – not the ‘gimmes’ or walkovers that some would have you believe his career consisted of. His longevity and durability is what will mark him out as one of the true greats in jumps racing.
“I’ve been so lucky with horses like Hurricane Fly, Kauto Star and Big Buck’s because without them I wouldn’t have had the career I’ve had. Any jockey will tell you that you’re only as good as the horses you ride. For me I got to ride the best two-mile hurdler (Hurricane Fly) and chaser (Kauto Star) of my era.”
n Westow trainer Paul Midgley’s Line Of Reason, second in the Beverley Bullet on Saturday, could head to Ireland for the Derrinstown Stud Flying Five Stakes at the Curragh on September 13.