Sunday 31st August 2015 marks a sad day for racing, as news hits that Hurricane Fly, arguably the greatest ever hurdler – certainly over the shorter trip – has been retired.
In the National Hunt sphere, The Fly was by far the most successful grade one horse of all time. And now, after a record breaking 22 wins at the highest level (grade one), the curtain comes down on the 11 year olds glittering career. A true equine superstar.
It is almost 8 months to the day since Hurricane Fly rewrote history at Leopardstown, breaking the record for most Irish Champion Hurdle wins as he delivered yet another grade one success in the 2015 renewal at the Dublin track.
The victory was a fifth in as many renewals for the dazzling hurdler. And, It seems somewhat fitting that his final victory came at a track (Leopardstown) where he remained unbeaten in 10 starts.
Despite being 11 years old and up against some very good younger types, Hurricane Fly was, as always, extremely well supported by punters before being sent off the 11-10 favourite.
Under a jockey he knows so well in Ruby Walsh, Hurricane Fly settled into the contest, racing in fourth position in the early stages. As the race took shape though, things didn’t appear to be going well. As they left the back straight, The Fly was behind and appeared to be struggling. While last season’s Champion Hurdle winner Jezki continued to travel strongly at the head of affairs.
However, upon rounding the turn for home, the 11 year old began to pick up, moving into second place as they entered the straight. Approaching the last, Hurricane Fly drew upside his rival before showing his usual willingness to stay on right to line, winning by 3 and half lengths.
It might not have been the son of Montjeu’s greatest performance, but it was the performance of a great, one full of heart and determination. In truth it was a performance which sums up his brilliant career quite nicely, because although he had undeniable talent, he had the application to match, never ducking out of the fight, always giving his all. A true battler.
Other notable wins –
Alongside his achievements in Ireland, Hurricane Fly will certainly be remembered for his exploits at the Cheltenham Festival; where he won the Champion Hurdle in both 2011 and 2013, becoming the first ever horse to regain the famous race after losing his crown the previous season.
Elsewhere, he won several grade one races, including the Punchestown Champion hurdle on multiple occasions and the Royal Bond Novice Hurdle.
In an astonishing career spanning 9 glorious years, he earned connections almost £1.9 million in prize money. Perhaps the greatest hurdler of all time, there really aren’t enough superlatives to describe such a performer, he was simply, a champion.