Hurricane Fly has proven to be one of the best hurdlers in training over the past few years and trainer Willie Mullins has mapped out his path to the Cheltenham Festival. The horse won the Champion Hurdle back in 2011 before coming third in the race last season and after a good return to the track this season he is the favourite for the race once again in 2013. Hurricane Fly has won all but one of his last 11 races over hurdles and that was in the Champion Hurdle last season and plenty of punters are expecting him to put that result right at the Festival in March. Willie Mullins has said that he will take his usual path of going to the Irish Champion Hurdle at the end of January before heading to Cheltenham and then possibly Punchestown fitness depending. He looked somewhere near his best last time out when he won the Istabraq Hurdle at Leopardstown which was a performance good enough to see him take over favouritism for the Champion Hurdle.
The Irish Champion Hurdle will be the last chance for Hurricane Fly and a number of other contenders to have a run before the big day at Cheltenham making it a key trial. A good run from Hurricane Fly will see his Festival price contract further although he could have to take on some interesting rivals from across the Irish Sea. Nicky Henderson has said that he could send 2010 Champion Hurdler, Binocular, to the Irish Champion Hurdle as he desperately looks to get a run into the horse before the Festival. It would be a fascinating clash between two old adversaries if it does happen and could offer a good form line between the leading contenders from Ireland and the UK. One stat counting against both horses when it comes to the Champion Hurdle is that we have only seen two nine-year-olds win the Champion Hurdle since 1981. The last to do so was Rooster Booster in 2003 and it remains to be seen whether or not Hurricane Fly or Binocular are good enough to match that feat this season.