Istabraq Hurdle Preview

Leopardstown

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Published: 12/12/2011

The Istabraq Hurdle is just one of many top drawer races at Leopardstown’s Christmas Festival; however it could be the real highlight this year as Champion Hurdler Hurricane Fly bids to kick-start his new campaign with a victory.

Many believe that Willie Mullins’s superstar is the best two mile hurdler since the horse that this contest is named after and only injury has blotted the seven year-olds copy book so far.

Indeed, Hurricane Fly is equally fragile as he is talented and he had to miss the recent Hatton’s Grace Hurdle due to a setback.

But should that enforced cancellation be nothing more than a blip, Hurricane Fly will take all the beating once more this season as he simply looks unbeatable when fit enough to race.

In March, partnered by Ruby Walsh, Hurricane Fly destroyed a quality Champion Hurdle line-up before also showing a great deal of heart to see off a staying on Peddlers Cross.

With many of his rivals that day, as well as last year’s top novices, opting to go novice chasing, the two mile hurdle division looks relatively weak in comparison to season’s gone by and Hurricane Fly is unlikely to surrender his crown at next year’s Cheltenham Festival.

The Istabraq Hurdle is likely to be a stepping stone for Hurricane Fly on his way to another Champion Hurdle tilt and he is a Christmas present which many punters will want to accept despite the likelihood that he will go off at odds-on.

Stable companion Thousand Stars has been impressive ever since finishing third to Hurricane Fly at Cheltenham and the French Champion Hurdle champion can definitely reap the rewards at Leopardstown should Hurricane Fly have to swerve the race.

Voler La Vedette was the main beneficiary of Fly’s absence at Fairyhouse in December and Colm Murphy’s mare will be looking to follow up that maiden Grade One win albeit in much stronger company this time around.

With plans to send the seven year-old mare to stud in the near future, Murphy is likely to have his stable star primed specifically for this event with a tilt at Champion Hurdle glory well and truly off the radar.

The Real Article was disappointing behind Voler La Vedette in the Hatton’s Grace however Edward O’Grady’s horse is likely to have needed that run and can go on to fulfil the high levels of potential which he has shown over the past twelve months.

Mourad, Zaidpour and a resurgent Mikael D’Haguenet should also have their say in what could be a very competitive race if Hurricane Fly does not make it to post.

The field will possess enough quality to make Hurricane Fly work on his seasonal bow however it will purely be a case of playing for places for the supporting cast when push comes to shove.

Each-way backers should definitely be happy if Hurricane Fly runs as his odds-on SP will offset some lofty prices all through the line-up.

But for all the race boils down to a one man show, it will still be a fascinating event and prospect to see how Hurricane Fly has progressed and whether or not he can be considered on course for a Champion Hurdle double success.


© Frixo 2017

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