Time called on remarkable career of Hurricane Fly

HURRICANE FLY, one of the greatest hurdlers in the history of jumps racing, has been retired.

Hurricane Fly ridden by jockey Ruby Walsh after winning the Stan James Champion Hurdle at the 2013 Cheltenham Festival in 2013. Picture: David Davies/PA.
Hurricane Fly ridden by jockey Ruby Walsh after winning the Stan James Champion Hurdle at the 2013 Cheltenham Festival in 2013. Picture: David Davies/PA.

Time has been called on the career of the record-breaking 11-year-old, who won an astonishing 22 Grade One races.

The son of Montjeu won 24 of his 32 races over hurdles, including the Champion Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in 2011 and 2013 when ridden to glory by Ruby Walsh.

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He earned connections nearly £1.9n in prize-money and had his final career start in the French Champion Hurdle at Auteuil in June, when he could only finish sixth.

Leopardstown was his favourite racecourse as he was unbeaten in 10 starts - all of which came at Grade One class - at the Dublin circuit.

Trainer Willie Mullins saluted what he described as a “legend of a horse”.

He said: “He’s come back into training and he’s really well in himself, but having had a chat with the owners, they were keen enough to retire him while he is still in great order.

“What can you say about him? He’s a legend of a horse. This day was always going to come and it’s great that we’re doing it on our terms, rather than due to an injury or something like that.

“He’s a horse who has everything - speed and stamina and an incredible bravery and aggressiveness. I think those are the key factors.”

He added: “We’ve not decided what he’s going to do yet. He’s still here and was ridden out as normal this morning. He’s still a handful and I’ve no doubt he’s a rising 12-year-old with the mind of a six-year-old.

“He’s going to the Curragh to parade on Irish Champions Weekend and he’s also going to Merano in Italy to parade there at their big Gold Cup meeting in September.

Paul Townend rode Hurricane Fly eight times, winning six Grade Ones.

“He played a huge part in my career,” said the rider

“It’s sad that he’s retired, but, at the same time, he’s still in one piece and is a happy horse.

“The owners and Willie had a chat and decided now was the time.

“I had my first ride in a Grade One on him (when winning the Royal Bond at Fairyhouse in 2008) and was lucky enough to have some great days with him.

“He was a tough horse with a huge heart and a will to win.

“I owe him a lot.”

Hurricane Fly had many memorable battles with Jezki over the years, with the latter’s trainer Jessica Harrington paying tribute to an “amazing” horse.

Harrington said: “Personally, I’m delighted he’s retiring safe and sound and in one piece.

“He was an amazing horse to win all those races. That’s testament to the horse’s longevity, but also Willie’s training of him.

“We thought last season, with Jezki having beaten him twice (Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham and Racing Post Champion Hurdle at Punchestown), that he (Hurricane Fly) would be kicked out of the way.

“It obviously didn’t work out that way as I had to wait until Punchestown (Ladbrokes World Series Hurdle) before we could beat him again.

“He was a great flag-bearer for Irish racing.”

Ireland the likely destination for Line Of Reason

A RETURN to Ireland is under consideration for North Yorkshire sprinter Line Of Reason after he was narrowly touched off in the Beverley Bullet on Saturday.

Turning out little over a week after finishing down the field in the Nunthorpe at York, Paul Midgley’s teak-tough sprinter pushed Group One winner Maarek all the way on the Westwood.

Midgley said: “He ran an excellent race, to be fair to him.

“At the end of the day, he was giving 4lb to a very good horse - a Group One winner - and just got touched off, so there’s nothing wrong with that.

“The ground was probably nice enough for Maarek and maybe a touch too nice for us, but I think the main thing that got us beat was that there was nothing able to go quick enough to give us a lead for long enough.

“That was the main problem.”

The Derrinstown Stud Flying Five Stakes at the Curragh on September 13 is a possible target for Line Of Reason, but ground conditions are key.

Midgley is also keen to keep him away from stable companions Desert Lord and Monsieur Joe.

The Westow handler said: “He’s in the Flying Five, there’s also the Scarbrough Stakes at Doncaster (September 9) and the Group Three at Newbury (Dubai International Airport World Trophy, September 19), so he’s got options and it will be ground dependent.

“The ideal scenario would be to run one in each, but two will probably have to run against each other.

“Line Of Reason and Desert Lord are more ground dependant than Monsieur Joe, who goes on pretty much anything.

“I put two of them in the Abbaye, but decided not to put Line Of Reason in as he’s had a long year having gone to Dubai.

“I can’t believe we’ve only won one race with him this year, but he’s picked up a lot of prize-money along the way.

“I don’t want to overdo it with him as I think he’ll be a proper horse next year.”