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Hurricane flying high; DAY ONE AT CHELTENHAM DAVID YATES REPORTS.

3.20: Stan James Champion Hurdle 2m 'f

WILLIE MULLINS fought back the tears after saddling Hurricane Fly to a stirring Cheltenham debut success in the Stan James Champion Hurdle.

The win, by a length and a quarter from the previously unbeaten Peddlers Cross, was the Co Carlow handler's first in Cheltenham's Big Four - the Champion Hurdle, Champion Chase, World Hurdle and Gold Cup - and brought to an end jockey Ruby Walsh's search for victory in the Tuesday feature.

Hurricane Fly has missed the last two Festivals through injury, and Mullins, whose father, Paddy - trainer of the legendary Dawn Run - died last October said: "I'd love to have him here.

"Just with the preparation of this horse, I imagined what he would have done, and tried to follow that.

"Growing up, we thought, 'When you have a good horse, you mind him and you wait.' "He had little, niggling injuries along the way but we said that, rather than rush him here and bring him half cocked, we waited and waited - and our turn came."

Much had been made of whether Hurricane Fly, a son of the brilliant but quirky Montjeu, would cope with the Cheltenham hill, but Mullins, whose horse is William Hill's 5-1 favourite to follow up in 2012, added: "I know I haven't travelled him to England but I wasn't keen to.

"People were going on about Montjeu not having a winner here, but sires of a lot of my winners hadn't had a winner at the Festival, so I just put a line through that statistic."

Walsh, who broke his right leg in a fall at Down Royal in November, added: "We always knew we had a machine.

"People were doubting but we always believed he had it - he is a deserving champion and a right little horse."

PEDDLERS CROSS 2nd

HURRICANE FLY 1st

OSCAR WHISKY 3rd

THOUSAND STARS 4th

KHYBER KIM 9th

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SUPER FLY: Hurricane Fly leads the way in the Stan James Champion Hurdle
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Mar 16, 2011
Words:332
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