Willie Mullins hailed Hurricane Fly as back to his very best as recorded his third successive win in the BHP Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown in most impressive fashion.
The nine-year-old (1-6 favourite) never came off the bridle in registering his 14th Grade One success, setting himself up perfectly for his bid to regain the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham.
Thousand Stars made it a decent gallop in atrocious weather, but when Ruby Walsh made his move rounding the home turn he soon skipped well clear, before easing over the line with a five-length advantage. His stablemate held Binocular, who travelled well for a long way, by a nose for second.
Mullins said: "He's well used to these conditions and he flies through that ground, so everything went according to plan. We didn't know what One Cool Shabra was going to do, but we weren't going to be hanging around with either horse (Hurricane Fly and Thousand Stars) if there was no pace.
"When you look at the race it was a tip-top race. Binocular has won a Champion Hurdle, Thousand Stars has won two French Champion Hurdles and Captain Cee Bee won a Supreme.
"Everything had gone 100% in his preparation. Ruby said he's as good as he ever saw him. He gave him a squeeze turning off the last bend and said it was just like he had jumped in. He took off like he was on summer ground and I just hope to keep him in that form over the next six or seven weeks.
"I've had faith in him all year and he seems to be in the sort of form he was two years ago."
On Thousand Stars, Mullins added: "He ran a cracker and is coming back to himself - we may keep him for the Aintree Hurdle. They've brought that race back to Thursday this year so the gap between it and Cheltenham is that bit tighter."
Walsh, also delighted with Hurricane Fly's run, told ATR: "I thought it was a very good performance. It was a good, even gallop, he travelled well, he jumped well and he moved away effortlessly from Paul's horse (Thousand Stars). He's probably a fitter horse than last year. Hopefully that will stand him in good stead in March."
The stewards looked into the running and riding of Binocular in third, but the explanations offered by Nicky Henderson and Tony McCoy were accepted.
31 August 2016Double tops at Bath for Georgia Cox
Richard Hannon appoints Silvestre de Sousa for Ventura Storm St Leger ride
Franny Norton strives for Mersey paradise with Sprint Cup hope Dancing Star
Darren Bunyan has Mill Reef aim for Curragh scorer Hit The Bid
Elliptical thrown in at the deep end in Poole poser at Salisbury
Mark Johnston to step Kilmah up in class after Goodwood success
Franny Norton comes in for ride on Sprint Cup contender Dancing Star
German Guineas hero Knife Edge sold to race abroad
Simon Crisford considers Mill Reef at Newbury for exciting Mokarris
Uxizandre closes in on return to training
Irish Champion Stakes bid "very possible" for star filly Minding
Bryan Smart considers Newbury option for Beverley Bullet hero Alpha Delphini
Tony McCoy not expecting ITV call
Royal Lodge among potential targets for Seven Heavens after Goodwood romp
Easy ground expected for Sprint Cup at Haydock
Park Stakes at Doncaster emerges as potential target for Librisa Breeze
Lady Aurelia enjoying Newmarket spell ahead of Cheveley Park mission
Desert Water makes winning start at Goodwood
Charlie Hall at Wetherby a possible starting point for The Last Samuri
Kevin Ryan has no Leopardstown going concerns for The Grey Gatsby
David Lanigan cool on Almodovar Kempton charge
Order Of St George nominated by Aidan O'Brien for Melbourne Cup
30 August 2016Epsom first for Ivan Furtado as Nouvelli Dancer strikes again
Seven Heavens maintains unbeaten record with Goodwood romp
Mitchum Swagger set to sidestep Superior Mile at Haydock
Owen Burrows targets Doncaster heat for exciting juvenile Akhlaaq
Mick Fitzgerald secures ITV racing role
Willie Mullins gives Ebor defector Ivan Grozny time to recover
'Magic horse' Clondaw Warrior on the march for Melbourne
Jamie Codd savours Amateur Derby glory at Epsom
Four-star Silvestre de Sousa back in pole position in championship race
Alicante Dawn makes it a Ripon season to remember for Bryan Smart
Limato back in Sprint Cup picture as Quiet Reflection primed
Owen Burrows plots path for Markaz after German delight
Trainer David Wachman to retire at the end of the season
Time Test to swerve Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown
Frankel colt Seven Heavens ready for Goodwood test
Charlie Appleby to choose between Leopardstown and Ascot for Hawkbill
29 August 2016Snow Falcon freezes out Roscommon rivals
Irish ace Jamie Codd sparkles in Amateur Derby at Epsom
All-the-way Alicante Dawn too hot for Ripon rivals
Careless riding ban for Joe Fanning in amended Newcastle result
Richard Fahey and Paul Hanagan strike at Ripon
Four-star De Sousa fires Hurricane warning at Epsom
Dancing Star and Mehronissa added to Sprint Cup field at Haydock
Unlucky break for Andrew Lynch at Cork
5 things you might not know about Jim Crowley
Title-chasing jockey Jim Crowley living the 'dream'
Henry Candy could draw stumps with Windsor winner Chain Of Daisies
Ger Lyons set to bid farewell to Australia-bound Endless Drama
Henry Candy puts Limato back in Haydock Sprint Cup contention
32Red continues support of All-Weather Championships
Pulled muscle could derail Middle Park plans for Caravaggio
Intelligence Cross towers above Curragh rivals
Opal Tiara sparkles in Supreme Stakes at Goodwood
Somehow far too good in Snow Fairy waltz at the Curragh
Sea Of Grace battles to Flame Of Tara success for John Oxx
Ruby Walsh back in business at Cork
Dermot Weld on weather watch for Harzand in Irish Champion
Muthmir team 'disappointed' as classy sprinter misfires in Beverley Bullet
Thikriyaat to undergo tests after Goodwood reverse
28 August 2016Robbie Hennessy stalwart Rubi Light retired
Regally-bred Yucatan off the mark at the Curragh
Richard Fahey feels Queen Kindly can savour mile high
Ground key to Boynton as Charlie Appleby ponders Curragh raid
Roger Charlton ponders Newmarket challenge with Frankel filly Fair Eva
Richard Fahey expects Ribchester progress in QEII at Ascot
Marco Botti has Gowran in mind for Haydock scorer Aljazzi
Jim Crowley takes the lead in jockeys' championship battle
Chain Of Daisies too strong in Winter Hill test
Lightning strikes in Celebration Mile
Wind too fast for Hopeful opponents at Newmarket
Platitude a class apart from March Stakes rivals
Alpha Delphini hits the target in Beverley Bullet for Bryan Smart
Certificate stamps authority on Goodwood handicap
Kilmah battles hard to land Prestige prize
Australian jaunt confirmed for Scottish after Strensall win