Hurricane Fly To Clear Fourth Ryanair Hurdle

The big races just keep coming over the festive period – the latest of which is a red-hot renewal of the Grade 1 Ryanair Hurdle at Leopardstown on Monday at 2pm.

Hurricane Fly v Jezki
Hurricane Fly has walked away with this prize in three of the last four years, and returns once more in an attempt to make it a fourth.

All of the old sparkle was evident when Willie Mullins’ 10yo rolled back the years to win last month’s Morgiana Hurdle at Punchestown (2m, soft), in the process digging deep to give old rival, Jezki (11/10), a 2l beating.

It was the same story here 12 months ago when Hurricane Fly again brushed Jessica Harrington’s, Jezki, aside by a similar margin, although it was that rival who got his revenge in two Champion Hurdles later in the season.

Round Five now awaits, and with the score standing at 2-2 it’s tough to call who will come out on top, although the current yielding ground may aid Jezki’s cause. The concern is that the Harrington yard has been a touch hit-and-miss at present, unlike the Mullins yard, which bagged a treble on Boxing Day.

The ground will clearly have a big say on the outcome, while the market clearly suggests a “two-horse race”, especially as the winner of this race favoured those around 8/1 or shorter – only Hurricane Fly and Jezki fit that profile…

Trends Summary
Of the last 10 Ryanair Hurdle winners…

10 returned 8/1 or shorter
10 were 4-9yo’s
10 made the top three last time out
9 won three or more hurdles
8 were officially rated 159 or higher
8 won during their last three runs
8 arrived via Fairyhouse, Punchestown or Newcastle last time
8 ran in a Grade 1 event last time
W Mullins won it three times

Not many will look beyond the first two in the market, with the likes of Hurricane Fly’s stablemate, Arctic Fire (20/1), way behind in terms of official ratings, though Tiger Roll won last season’s Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham and is undoubtedly talented – whether he is the same horse this season remains to be seen, having been pulled up lame 59 days ago.

What also makes for an intriguing line-up is the presence of Aidan O’Brien’s, Plinth (40/1), who arrives in fine fettle, and while needing to improve, could make the frame at big odds should one of the big guns falter.

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Another fascinating duel between Hurricane Fly and Jezki awaits, and if the rain continues to fall, then it could be the former who comes out on top.