Stan James Champion Hurdle winner – HURRICANE FLY (IRE)
9 b g Montjeu (IRE) – Scandisk (IRE) (Kenmare (FR))
Jump Form: 11211/131/1111/1131-1111
Owner: George Creighton and Mrs Rose Boyd
Trainer: Willie Mullins IRE Breeder: Agricola Del Parco Jockey: Ruby Walsh
Although bred in Ireland, Hurricane Fly began his racing career in France after selling for 65,000 euros as a yearling at Goffs to trainer Jean-Luc Pelletan. The son of Montjeu proved a classy Flat performer, having been placed on three starts as a two-year-old before stepping up a level the following year. He won his first two outings of his three-year-old campaign, the second of them when beating subsequent Group One winner Literato in a Saint-Cloud Listed race and went on to finish fourth to French Derby winner Lawman in a Group Three at Chantilly.
He finished last on his final two Flat starts but had been schooled over hurdles by Pelletan since the age of two and was bought in late 2008 by bloodstock agent Richard Hobson to send to Willie Mullins. Hurricane Fly has been a revelation over hurdles since winning on his debut at Punchestown in May, 2008. He went to Auteuil to win a Grade Three Hurdle later that month and won the first of 15 Grade One victories to date in the Royal Bond Novice Hurdle at Fairyhouse in November, 2008.
A 10-length success in Leopardstown’s Future Champion Novice Hurdle was followed by a seven-length victory in the Evening Herald Champion Novice Hurdle at the 2009 Punchestown Festival. After being beaten on his debut in the 2009/10 season, he had only one more start when returning from a five-month lay-off to win the Rabobank Champion Hurdle at the 2010 Punchestown Festival.
The 2010/11 season brought victories in the Hatton’s Grace Hurdle at Fairyhouse and both the Festival Hurdle and Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown before he travelled over to Britain for the first time to contest the Stan James Champion Hurdle at the 2011 Festival. He effortlessly saw off Peddlers Cross and bowed out for the season in front of a home crowd in the Rabobank Champion Hurdle when justifying odds-on favouritism with a five-length defeat of stablemate Thousand Stars. He beat Oscars Well by six and a half lengths in the 2012 Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown before finishing third, when sent off 4/6 favourite, in last season’s Stan James Champion Hurdle.
He rounded off the season when seeing off three rivals in the Rabobank Champion Hurdle at Punchestown. He is four from four this season, winning the Morgiana Hurdle at Punchestown in November, the Istabraq Festival Hurdle at Leopardstown in December and another Irish Champion Hurdle in January. He won his second Stan James Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham in good style on Tuesday, March 12, 2013, becoming only the second horses to regain his crown in the two- mile hurdling championship race – Comedy Of Errors was the first to do this in 1975.
Race Record: Starts (Jump): 20; 1st: 17; 2nd: 1; 3rd: 2; Win & Place Prize Money: £1,339,067
George Creighton and Rose Boyd
Belfast-based George Creighton is retired from the construction industry and his whole family have enjoyed following Hurricane Fly’s progress with his grandson Lewis at Cheltenham for his 2011 Stan James Champion Hurdle success. Creighton’s son Andrew is a successful property developer in Northern Ireland, often in partnership with Frank Boyd, whose wife Rose is Hurricane Fly’s co-owner. The Boyds are based at the Rademon estate at Crossgar in County Down.
Frank Boyd described the 2011 Stan James Champion Hurdle success as “the best day of my life”. Rose Boyd breeds both thoroughbreds and hunters at home, where they also stage a cross-country event, and she is joint-master of the local Killultagh Hunt. Away from Hurricane Fly, the best horse owned by the Creightons and Boyds has been the late C’est Ca, a useful hurdler and chaser with Mullins. Andrew Creighton was valued at £67 million in the 2012 Sunday Times Rich List and Frank Boyd at £60 million. The pair are partners in Belfast-based William Ewart Properties.
Stan James Champion Hurdle Wins: 2011 & 2013 HURRICANE FLY
Born on September 15, 1956, Willie Mullins was six-time amateur champion rider in Ireland and both rode and trained Wither Or Which to win the 1996 Weatherbys Champion Bumper at the Cheltenham Festival. He hails from one of Ireland’s most famous racing families, as son of the late Paddy Mullins, the outstanding all-round trainer whose most famous star was Dawn Run, winner of the 1984 Champion Hurdle and 1986 Cheltenham Gold Cup. Wither Or Which was one of eight Weatherbys Champion Bumper winners trained by Willie Mullins (also Florida Pearl 1997, Alexander Banquet 1998, Joe Cullen 2000, Missed That 2005, Cousin Vinny 2008, Champagne Fever 2012, Briar Hill 2013). Mullins saddled Rule Supreme to win the RSA Chase at the 2004 Cheltenham Festival and sent out the same horse to win the Irish Hennessy in 2005.
His best chaser to date has been Florida Pearl, who was placed in two Cheltenham Gold Cups, won the 1998 RSA Chase, the 1999, 2000, 2001 and 2004 Irish Hennessy Cognac Gold Cups in Ireland as well as the 2001 King George VI Chase and the 2002 totesport Bowl at Aintree. In 2011, he trained the brilliant Hurricane Fly to win the Stan James Champion Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival and regained the hurdling crown with the same horse in 2013. He was leading trainer with five victories at the 2013 Cheltenham Festival, where he has been successful 29 times – the best record of any Irish trainer ever after overtaking Tom Dreaper’s 26 wins.
He won The Irish Independent Award as the top Festival trainer for the first time in 2011 with four victories. He captured the 2005 Grand National with Hedgehunter. Mullins has over 150 horses at his Closutton yard near Bagenalstown in County Carlow and has been champion Irish jump trainer for the past five seasons. He is set for a sixth title and has already broken the previous record of 155 winners in a season set by Aidan O’Brien in 1995/96. Stan James Champion Hurdle Wins: 2011 & 2013 HURRICANE FLY
Ruby (Rupert) Walsh rides for the champion stables of Paul Nicholls in Britain and Willie Mullins in Ireland and – along with Tony McCoy – leads the current generation of jump jockeys. Born May 14, 1979, and based in County Kildare, Ireland , he is the son of 11 -times Irish amateur champion jockey, Ted Walsh, now a trainer and television pundit. Ruby is the second of Walsh’s four children and his younger sister Katie is a successful amateur who had two wins at the 2010 Cheltenham Festival. His sister Jennifer acts as Ruby’s agent. Ruby had his first success under Rules aboard Siren Song at Gowran Park on July 25, 1995, and followed in his father’s footsteps when capturing the Irish amateurs’ championship at the age of 19 while still studying for his Leaving Certificate.
He was champion Irish National Hunt jockey in his first season as a professional (1998/99) and has taken the title a further seven times (2000/2001, 2004/05, 2005/06, 2006/07, 2007/08, 2008/09 and 2009/10). Walsh has won the John Smith’s Grand National twice on Papillon (2000) and Hedgehunter (2005). He is the most successful jockey of all time at the Cheltenham Festival with 38 victories and has been the Thomas Pink leading rider at The Festival seven times (2004, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 & 2013). His Cheltenham victories include the 2007 and 2009 Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup with Kauto Star, three Sportingbet Queen Mother Champion Chases (2004 Azertyuiop, 2008 and 2009 Master Minded), two Stan James Champion Hurdle (2011 &2013 Hurricane Fly) and four Ladbrokes World Hurdles (2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 Big Buck’s).
There are few omissions in his list of big-race successes and he has also won five King George VI Chases on Kauto Star. His autobiography was published in October, 2010. He is married to Gillian and the couple have two daughters, Isabelle, who was born in October, 2009 and Elsa, born in May, 2011. Stan James Champion Hurdle Wins: 2011 & 2013 HURRICANE FLY
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Categories: Cheltenham festival 2013