Cheltenham Festival 2014: Hurricane Fly

Factfile for Dual Stan James Champion Hurdle winner  – HURRICANE FLY (IRE)

10 b g Montjeu (IRE) – Scandisk (IRE) (Kenmare (FR))

Jump Form: 11211/131/1111/1131/11111–111

  • Owner: George Creighton and Mrs Rose Boyd
  • Trainer: Willie Mullins IRE
  • Breeder: Agricola Del Parco
  • Jockey: Ruby Walsh

Hurricane Fly

Although bred in Ireland, where he was foaled and raised at the Irish National Stud, 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 – placed on three starts as a two-year-old before stepping up a level the following year.

He won on the 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 was 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 a record 19 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 continued his winning ways last seaon, when five from five season. He won the Morgiana Hurdle at Punchestown in November, the Istabraq Festival Hurdle at Leopardstown in December and another Irish Champion Hurdle in January.

He took his second Stan James Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham in good style on Tuesday, 12 March, 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 – and went on to take the Rabobank Champion Hurdle at the Punchestown Festival on 26 April.

There have been three more Grade One successes this season, all in Ireland, the Morgiana Hurdle back at Punchestown in November, the Ryanair Hurdle at Leopardstown’s Christmas meeting and the BHP Insurance Irish Champion Hurdle, for the fourth time, on 26 January.

Race Record: Starts (Jump): 24; 1st: 21; 2nd: 1; 3rd: 2; Win & Place Prize Money: £1,583,610

George Creighton and Rose Boyd

Belfast-based George Creighton is retired from the construction industry. Creighton’s son Andrew has been a 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.

Stan James Champion Hurdle Wins: 2011 & 2013 HURRICANE FLY


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