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14 Feb 2011 | 19:15
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Four face Fly at LeopardstownHeadlines
Hurricane Fly

Hurricane Fly will face just four rivals as he aims to regain his crown in the Istabraq Festival Hurdle at Leopardstown on Saturday.

The 2011 Champion Hurdle hero missed the first half of last season with injury, but following a scintillating comeback in the Irish Champion Hurdle, he was odds-on to strike gold again at Cheltenham in March.

However, he was beaten into third in a lacklustre display and although he did sign off with victory at Punchestown, he headed into the new campaign with questions to answer. Willie Mullins' stable star travelled with far more zest when making a winning return in the Morgiana Hurdle at Punchestown last month and will be odds-on to follow up this weekend.

The champion trainer also saddles the consistent Thousand Stars, while the main threat from outside the yard is the Dermot Weld-trained mare Unaccompanied, winner of this Grade One prize 12 months ago.

Eddie Harty's veteran Captain Cee Bee and rank outsider Tilabay complete the line-up.

Mullins is pleased with Hurricane Fly's condition going into his latest assignment as he aims to make it five wins from five starts at Leopardstown.

"He's in good form, I'm very pleased with him at home at the moment," said Mullins.

"Leopardstown is a track we know he likes, he's won there on all sorts of ground, so we'll see what happens. We'll get it out of the way before we make plans for the rest of the season."

Thousand Stars failed to fire on his seasonal reappearance at Tipperary in October but the champion trainer believes his grey is in better form now.

He added: "I just hadn't been that happy with him going into the Tipperary race, but I think he is starting to come back to himself. He has run well at Leopardstown before and the ground should be all right for him. I decided to stick to two miles with him rather than run him in the three-mile race (Christmas Hurdle)."

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