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14 Feb 2011 | 19:15
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Hurricane targets Champion trebleHeadlines
Hurricane Fly

Willie Mullins is confident Hurricane Fly is in better shape than at any stage last season as he aims to complete a hat-trick in the BHP Insurance Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown on Sunday.

The 13-time Grade One winner was a scintillating winner of this prestigious event 12 months ago on what was his belated seasonal reappearance, but suffered an odds-on reverse when defending his crown in the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham.

He signed off for the campaign with a solid, if unspectacular, victory at the Punchestown Festival, but has looked more like his old self in winning the Morgiana and the Festival Hurdle so far this term. He is a hot favourite to become the first horse since the great Istabraq to win the Irish Champion Hurdle more than twice.

"I don't think there was anything troubling him last season. He just didn't come back as strong. He probably didn't do as well during the summer and we never got to put the condition and strength into him that we needed," said Mullins.

"This year he's come back much stronger and he has taken his training well and is doing everything right, so fingers crossed we can keep him right for Sunday. He's a much more settled horse all round this year and he'll have a very good chance."

Victory this weekend is likely to strengthen Hurricane Fly's position at the head of ante-post betting for the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham in March, but Mullins is refusing to look that far ahead.

"I'm just concentrating on Sunday. What happens after that across the water, I'm not thinking about that. It's all about Sunday for me," said the champion trainer.

"The Irish Champion Hurdle is an extremely valuable and important race in its own right. We've been fortunate enough with Hurricane Fly to win this race on two occasions and we're looking forward to the race."

Mullins has a second runner in the shape of three-time Grade One winner Thousand Stars, but he has never finished ahead of Hurricane Fly in eight previous meetings.

13 February 2016

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Dan Skelton looks to Aintree with Newbury winner Meet The Legend
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Ben Pauling thrilled with Barters Hill as Cheltenham Festival looms large
Black Hercules set to star in Ten Up at Navan
Tuesday's Lingfield card subject to Sunday inspection
Nicky Henderson's Buveur D'Air looks to book Supreme place at Exeter
Jonjo O'Neill has high hopes for Taquin Du Seuil on Warwick return
Josses Hill peaks at Kempton for red-hot Nico de Boinville
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Nicky Henderson joy at 'perfect' My Tent Or Yours Kempton workout
Open Eagle seeking to book Cheltenham ticket at Warwick
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Paul Nicholls hoping Dodging Bullets can fire in Newbury return
Rocky Creek aiming to regain winning thread as he tackles Denman date at Newbury
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12 February 2016

Kempton scorer Josses Hill back in business for Nicky Henderson
Victoria Pendleton to gain more point-to-point experience
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My Tent Or Yours to have Kingwell prep at Kempton
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Exeter call precautionary check for Sunday card
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11 February 2016

Bangor and Uttoxeter beaten by weather
Mags Mullins sets sights on Cheltenham Festival with Thurles winner Ballychorus
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10 February 2016

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Paul Nicholls hands Silviniaco Conti Ascot Chase mission

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