Hurricane Fly To Make It 10 out of 10 At Leopardstown

Forget Ali v Frazier, Coe v Ovett and Higgins v Davis, the modern day equivalent of sporting rivalry gets underway on Sunday when rivals Hurricane Fly and Jezki square up once more in what should be a memorable “round seven”.

Hurricane Fly v Jezki
Leopardstown is once more the scene for the two adversaries’ next battle, as they face-off in the Grade 1 Irish Champion Hurdle (2.45pm) over 2m, and with Willie Mullins’, Hurricane Fly, currently 4-2 ahead, punters have smashed into the popular 11yo making it a fifth Irish Champion Hurdle success.

Hurricane Fly has won both races against Jessica Harrington’s, Jezki, this season, although there was only 1/2l between them over C&D at Christmas.

That victory on December 29 also made it 3-3 for Hurricane Fly against Jezki at Leopardstown, while also taking his unbeaten record at the track to a remarkable 9-9.

So what can backers expect on Sunday? Well, once again the ground is forecast to be soft, which would certainly be in Hurricane Fly’s favour, as Jezki was clearly a better horse last spring on better ground. With only 1/2l between them last time, some may see 4/5 about Hurricane Fly on the short side, with 11/8 about Jezki possibly the value bet.

Fancied runners have also delivered in this race down the years…

Trends Summary
Of the last 10 Irish Champion Hurdle winners…

10 were 6-11yo’s
10 won 36% or more of their hurdle runs
9 returned 4/1 or shorter – others were 1-42
9 were officially rated 156 or higher
9 were Irish-bred
8 won last time out
W Mullins won it 4 times

Just under 2l behind Hurricane Fly last time was stablemate, Arctic Fire, who despite a hurdles record of just 2-9, is improving and recorded a career best despite that defeat last time. It’s unlikely he’ll win on Sunday, but should be involved.

Let’s not forget the lightly raced 4yo, Fiscal Focus (25/1), however, who made an impressive hurdles debut over C&D on Boxing Day in landing a Grade 2 (soft). Not many hurdlers make a winning bow in Graded class, and Desmond McDonogh’s colt is obviously one of massive potential for the future.

Recommended Bets
There may not be as much as the thickness of a cigarette paper between the “big two” this weekend, and the ground could have a big say. If soft or heavy, then the nod goes to Hurricane Fly, who will be seeking to make it 10-10 at Leopardstown. Jezki will simply have to be at his best if getting one over his old rival.