Time called on Hurricane Fly the legend

Hurricane Fly, one of the greatest hurdlers in the history of jumps racing, has been retired.
Hurricane Fly wins the Champion Hurdle in 2011. Picture: PAHurricane Fly wins the Champion Hurdle in 2011. Picture: PA
Hurricane Fly wins the Champion Hurdle in 2011. Picture: PA

Time has been called on the career of the record-breaking 11-year-old, who won an astonishing 22 Grade One races. The son of Montjeu won 24 of his 32 races over hurdles, including the Champion Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in 2011 and 2013.

He earned connections nearly £1.9 million in prize money and had his final career start in the French Champion Hurdle at Auteuil in June, when he could finish only sixth.

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Leopardstown was his favourite racecourse where he was unbeaten in 10 starts – all of which came at Grade One class.

Paul Townend rode Hurricane Fly eight times, winning six Grade Ones. “He played a huge part in my career,” said Townend. “It’s sad that he’s retired, but, at the same time, he’s still in one piece and is a happy horse. The owners and Willie had a chat and decided now was the time. I had my first ride in a Grade One on him [when winning the Royal Bond at Fairyhouse in 2008] and was lucky enough to have some great days with him.

“He was a tough horse with a huge heart and a will to win. “I owe him a lot.”

Trainer Willie Mullins saluted what he described as a “legend of a horse”. He said “He’s come back into training and he’s really well in himself, but having had a chat with the owners, they were keen enough to retire him while he is still in great order.

“What can you say about him? He’s a legend of a horse. This day was always going to come and it’s great that we’re doing it on our terms, rather than due to an injury or something like that.

“He’s a horse who has everything – speed and stamina and an incredible bravery and aggressiveness. I think those are the key factors.”

He added: “We’ve not decided what he’s going to do yet. He’s still here and was ridden out as normal this morning. He’s still a handful and I’ve no doubt he’s a rising 12-year-old with the mind of a six-year-old.

“He’s going to the Curragh to parade on Irish Champions Weekend and he’s also going to Merano in Italy to parade there at their big Gold Cup meeting in September.”

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• Sir Michael Stoute described Telescope as “a model of consistency” after owners Highclere Thoroughbred Racing confirmed the Royal Ascot winner’s retirement. The five-year-old was a stunning winner of the Hardwicke Stakes last summer and was runner-up in the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot.