Punchestown: Hurricane downs Jezki in the Morgiana
Hurricane Fly rolled back the years to record his third victory in the Morgiana Hurdle at Punchestown, taking his Grade 1 tally to twenty in the process. There had been worries about the 10 year old’s ability to still mix it at the highest level over 2 miles after two defeats to the young pretender Jezki at the end of last season but he vanquished those fears today and also gained some revenge on the reigning Champion Hurdler.
There had been murmurs that ‘The Fly’ may be stepped up in trip in this campaign but after this performance connections must surely be daring to dream of another crack at the Champion Hurdle come next March. Tactics had played a big part in Jezki’s two victories at the back end of last season but today’s race unfolded with perfection for Willie Mullins’ stable star.
Colin Bowe’s progressive mare Little King Robin, a known front runner, had set a blazing gallop from the off, with Jezki tracking under Mark Walsh who was taking his first ride on Jessica Harrington’s charge. Ruby Walsh was happy to let Hurricane roll along in rear, giving his rivals a good lead as the pace continued unrelenting.
Little King Robin’s game performance eventually became undone on the turn for home and with Jezki cruising up on the outside, the race looked to be over. Walsh began to creep closer on his World Record breaking partner, however, and having joined his rival before the last, eventually battled clear to score by 2 1/4 lengths.
A delighted Mullins said: “When we took the rug off him in the parade ring many onlookers felt he was a bit heavy. But his homework suggested he was stronger than last year.
“Ruby was tactically very good. The onus was on the champion (Jezki) to deal with the pace, and it was easier for us to ride our race. It won’t be always that easy through the season. Tactically we had the advantage today.
“He’ll go his normal route. You would have to say that run was better than his last two runs last season.”
Walsh added: “He’s a horse that always had plenty of guts and determination. Some people may have had their doubts about him, but Kauto Star was also written off a number of times. That’s racing, it’s all about opinions and he got a wonderful reception from the crowd here today.”
By Kevin Walsh 16/11/14
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