Monthly Archives: January 2015

Fantastic Fly reigns again

Hurricane Fly ridden by Ruby Walsh enters the parade ring after winning the The BHP Insurances Irish Champion Hurdle for the 5th time in a row

Hurricane Fly ridden by Ruby Walsh enters the parade ring after winning the The BHP Insurances Irish Champion Hurdle for the 5th time in a row

Hurricane Fly knuckled down in his inimitable fashion to clinch an historic fifth consecutive victory in the BHP Insurances Irish Champion Hurdle.

Willie Mullins' incredible 11-year-old was bidding to make it 10 starts unbeaten at his beloved Leopardstown and claim a 22nd victory at Grade One level.

For much of the journey it appeared unlikely, however, with Ruby Walsh getting lower in the saddle in the back straight to keep the 11/10 favourite in touch.

With the pacemaking Plinth fading, last year's Champion Hurdle hero Jezki took over from the home turn, with Hurricane Fly responding to Walsh's urgings on the inside of the track.

The big two headed down to the final flight as one and Hurricane Fly appeared to be getting on top when Jezki blundered, handing his old rival the initiative.

To the delight of the packed grandstands, Hurricane Fly galloped all the way to the line to seal yet another momentous triumph.

His stable companion Arctic Fire came through to deny Jezki the runner-up spot.

The score stood at four-two in favour of Hurricane Fly heading into their seventh battle, but the prospect of a sounder surface gave connections of Jezki confidence the Cheltenham hero could gain his revenge.

Plinth, employed by Jezki's owner JP McManus as a pacemaker, was struggling to get to the front from the outset and it was inevitable he would eventually capitulate.

Jezki cruised to the lead at the second-last, but Hurricane Fly, who himself appeared to be finding the gallop a little too hot for much of the way, was typically dogged and clawed himself back into the race.

It seemed that Hurricane Fly would win the argument when he managed to get back on terms as the final flight loomed and Jezki's error sealed his fate.

Arctic Fire, third behind the big two in the Ryanair Hurdle at Christmas, ran a largely similar race having been held up by Paul Townend.

Walsh said: "He didn't travel with the same fluidity as he has done in the past today, but I suppose when the going got a little bit tougher going to the second-last he started to pick up.

"When he rounded the bend and I got to AP (McCoy, on Jezki) I was thinking 'how much is he going to find?', but when I saw AP go for his whip I knew I had him covered.

"I was going as fast as I was able – as fast as he (Hurricane Fly) wanted to go, anyway. I was struggling.

"It was the outside track, we didn't go mad early and they stepped up down the back to draw the sting out of us. It was a testing race.

"When I got more aggressive with him, he started to pick up and when I got on to AP's tail, he stuck his head down like he always does."

Walsh is confident Hurricane Fly had Jezki's measure when the latter made his mistake.

He said: "He gave me a brilliant jump at the last. Obviously Jezki stepped into it and missed it and that probably enhanced the margin we won by, but he's an incredible horse.

"I jumped the last well and going on past performances, he wasn't going to shirk the issue from there home."

Fantastic Fly reigns again

Hurricane Fly ridden by Ruby Walsh enters the parade ring after winning the The BHP Insurances Irish Champion Hurdle for the 5th time in a row

Hurricane Fly ridden by Ruby Walsh enters the parade ring after winning the The BHP Insurances Irish Champion Hurdle for the 5th time in a row

Hurricane Fly knuckled down in his inimitable fashion to clinch an historic fifth consecutive victory in the BHP Insurances Irish Champion Hurdle.

Willie Mullins' incredible 11-year-old was bidding to make it 10 starts unbeaten at his beloved Leopardstown and claim a 22nd victory at Grade One level.

For much of the journey it appeared unlikely, however, with Ruby Walsh getting lower in the saddle in the back straight to keep the 11/10 favourite in touch.

With the pacemaking Plinth fading, last year's Champion Hurdle hero Jezki took over from the home turn, with Hurricane Fly responding to Walsh's urgings on the inside of the track.

The big two headed down to the final flight as one and Hurricane Fly appeared to be getting on top when Jezki blundered, handing his old rival the initiative.

To the delight of the packed grandstands, Hurricane Fly galloped all the way to the line to seal yet another momentous triumph.

His stable companion Arctic Fire came through to deny Jezki the runner-up spot.

The score stood at four-two in favour of Hurricane Fly heading into their seventh battle, but the prospect of a sounder surface gave connections of Jezki confidence the Cheltenham hero could gain his revenge.

Plinth, employed by Jezki's owner JP McManus as a pacemaker, was struggling to get to the front from the outset and it was inevitable he would eventually capitulate.

Jezki cruised to the lead at the second-last, but Hurricane Fly, who himself appeared to be finding the gallop a little too hot for much of the way, was typically dogged and clawed himself back into the race.

It seemed that Hurricane Fly would win the argument when he managed to get back on terms as the final flight loomed and Jezki's error sealed his fate.

Arctic Fire, third behind the big two in the Ryanair Hurdle at Christmas, ran a largely similar race having been held up by Paul Townend.

Walsh said: "He didn't travel with the same fluidity as he has done in the past today, but I suppose when the going got a little bit tougher going to the second-last he started to pick up.

"When he rounded the bend and I got to AP (McCoy, on Jezki) I was thinking 'how much is he going to find?', but when I saw AP go for his whip I knew I had him covered.

"I was going as fast as I was able – as fast as he (Hurricane Fly) wanted to go, anyway. I was struggling.

"It was the outside track, we didn't go mad early and they stepped up down the back to draw the sting out of us. It was a testing race.

"When I got more aggressive with him, he started to pick up and when I got on to AP's tail, he stuck his head down like he always does."

Walsh is confident Hurricane Fly had Jezki's measure when the latter made his mistake.

He said: "He gave me a brilliant jump at the last. Obviously Jezki stepped into it and missed it and that probably enhanced the margin we won by, but he's an incredible horse.

"I jumped the last well and going on past performances, he wasn't going to shirk the issue from there home."

Stal profits from Kaymer collapse

Gary Stal of France holds the trophy after winning the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship

Gary Stal of France holds the trophy after winning the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship

Gary Stal profited from Martin Kaymer’s extraordinary collapse to win the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship on Sunday.

Kaymer carried a six-shot lead going into Sunday's final round and extended his advantage to eight shots after birdies at three of his first four holes, but it went downhill fast for the three-time winner soon after.

A bogey at the sixth hole, a double bogey at the ninth and a triple bogey at the 13th led to the German's demise and, although Kaymer stopped the rot with five successive pars, he ran out of holes with which to recover.

The reigning US Open champion – a winner of this tournament in 2008, 2010 and 2011 – drove into the bunker on the 18th hole and although he recovered with some fine approach play he missed his birdie putt to cap off a miserable day at the Abu Dhabi Golf Course.

That meant Kaymer finished on 17 under overall – his error-strewn three-over-par 75 the joint worst of the day with England's Andy Sullivan.

Kaymer's remarkable slump allowed Stal to pounce and the 22-year-old Frenchman promptly took the lead after Kaymer's triple bogey thanks to six birdies in his first 11 holes.

After parring the first three holes, Stal picked up shots at the fourth and six before reeling off four successive birdies to the 11th hole to move two clear at the top of the leaderboard.

Four pars followed before Stal birdied the par-four 16th and finished with two pars to finish with a seven-under 65 for the day – one shot clear of world number one Rory McIlroy, who carded a final-round 66 to finish with a flurry and claim the runners-up spot.

McIlroy began the day eight shots off the pace but shot three birdies on the front nine and four coming home to finish six under on Sunday – 18 under for the tournament.