Hurricane Fly beats Jezki at Leopardstown in Ryanair Hurdle
Hurricane Fly once again got the better of old foe Jezki in a pulsating renewal of the Ryanair Hurdle at Leopardstown.
With the score three-two in favour of Willie Mullins’ brilliant hurdler heading into their latest battle, Hurricane Fly was the 5-6 favourite to get the job done again. Jezki was the first of the big two to commit for home in the hands of Tony McCoy, but Ruby Walsh tracked him through aboard Hurricane Fly and there was little to choose between the pair jumping the final flight. Both horses fought tooth and nail to the line, but it was Hurricane Fly who brought the house down with another determined success.
Jezki was one of three runners in the field for leading owner JP McManus and his two other participants, Plinth and Alderwood, did their best to give the Jessica Harrington-trained Champion Hurdle hero a tow into the race.
Jezki hit the front after the home turn, but Hurricane Fly, who beat his major rival in this race 12 months ago, was right in his slipstream. When it turned into a scrap after the last hurdle, Mullins’ inmate once again dug deep into his reserves to seize the day.
It was Hurricane Fly’s fourth victory in this race and his ninth from as many starts at his beloved Leopardstown.
The winner’s stable companion, Arctic Fire, was not far behind the big two in third.
Walsh said: “He’s an incredible little horse, but it takes two horses to make a race and, in fairness to Jezki, he showed up today and it was an honest race. He’s a pleasure to ride. To have him at the peak of his powers for so many years is an incredible feat.”
Mullins added to the plaudits: “I think he’s the best anyone has ever trained over jumps. I’ll never have another horse like him. He’s unique.”
Earlier Windsor Park wore down main market rival Royal Caviar to make a winning start to his jumping career in the Copper Face Jacks Maiden Hurdle at Leopardstown. A dual bumper scorer and also successful on the Flat at Gowran Park and Galway this autumn, Windsor Park was the 6-4 favourite for Dermot Weld and Davy Russell.
Royal Caviar, representing Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh, travelled ominously well throughout and looked set to come out on top after cruising to the lead soon after rounding the home turn. However, Windsor Park tracked him to the final flight and found most for pressure on the run-in to score by two and a half lengths.