Stan James Champion Hurdle - Tue March 15th 2011 

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Stan James Champion Hurdle 2011 - Analysis

A first Stan James Champion Hurdle success followed a grim four months for jockey Ruby Walsh.

Hurricane Fly (blue) ridden by Ruby Walsh wins from Peddlers Cross (yellow blue cap) ridden by Jason Maguire
© Grossick Racing Photography

King Fontaine

He was sidelined with a broken leg throughout that time, yet the absence did not damage his race-riding skills. He returned to action just ten days ago, but said: “It’s all about confidence. People pointed to the fact I didn’t ride a winner until Saturday last week, but being put back on good horses by Willie [Mullins] and Paul [Nicholls] was all the confidence I needed.

“The injury was treated by a guy called David Moore, who is a very practical man and told me the cage [which held the fracture in place] should be able to come off in 14 weeks. He laid down the law to me, and it paid off.”

Of his winning ride on Hurricane Fly, Walsh said: “I wasn’t surprised when Peddlers Cross came back at me. He battled back when winning last year and he’s an incredibly tough horse. I probably got to him a bit sooner than ideal, but Hurricane quickened up so well there wasn’t much I could do - it was the way the race unfolded.

“It hasn’t sunk in that I’ve won and it won’t do until the end of the week, because at Cheltenham there’s always another race. I know all about finishing second in the race having been runner-up on Brave Inca, Celestial Halo and Marble Arch.”

This was the middle leg of a 74.6/1 first-day treble for Walsh, who also won on Al Ferof and Quevega. Hurricane Fly’s trainer, Willie Mullins, said he was not concerned that his number one jockey would be fit for the Festival, and revealed how he told Paul Townend that Walsh would be in Hurricane Fly’s saddle - Townend had ridden the horse in Walsh’s absence. Mullins said:. “I kept in touch with Ruby while he was off, and the cage enabled him to walk and keep his muscle tone up. When he eventually came down to ride I could see there was nothing wrong with him, and a half-fit Ruby is better than most men fully fit, so I wasn’t concerned.

“I called Paul aside one day and said ‘I’m putting Ruby on the horse at Cheltenham,’ and he said ‘Well, he is our stable jockey’. I knew he was disappointed, but I said to him ‘We’ll try to make you champion [jockey in Ireland]’ and I hope we can do that. In fact Ruby seemed more disappointed when I told him of that plan and said he wouldn’t be able to ride all the horses before the season’s end.

“They are both level-headed, calm guys, and I believe Ruby would be disappointed if Paul didn’t win the title.”

Trainer Willie Mullins was thrilled that Hurricane Fly was able to give British racegoers a chance to see what he had been achieving in Ireland with his victory in the Stan James Champion Hurdle.



Trainer Willie Mullins was thrilled that Hurricane Fly was able to give British racegoers a chance to see what he had been achieving in Ireland with his victory in the Stan James Champion Hurdle.

Mullins said: “He has done everything right all year - every race that we have run him in, he has answered all of the questions. I know that I haven’t travelled him to England but I wasn’t keen to. People were wondering whether a Montjeu could win around here but I looked back at the winners we have had in the past here, most of them had a sire who had never had a winner round here before.

“I think a lot of Irish punters backed him because they had been watching what he could do at home. Irish punters needed a lift and they got it today. I thought he was a fantastic price for the last month but I didn’t want to open my mouth and tempt fate. We didn’t get over here before today this season because our Irish targets were enough and I thought if we brought him here in good fettle we’d see what he could do.

“I am just delighted that we are here for one day to show what he is able to do. Paul Townend has done a great job - he has ridden him out every day this year apart from a couple of days when Emmett (Mullins) rode him. He has kept him right and I think that this morning was the first time that Ruby sat on him in months.

“It wasn’t a hard decision to go with Ruby. He is my stable jockey and Paul has had a fantastic innings while Ruby was out - hopefully we can make him champion jockey at home. You can’t leave Ruby Walsh on the sidelines when you have the favourite for the Champion Hurdle.

“The Irish form has stood up including the Irish Champion Hurdle, when Thousand Stars (fourth) was just behind Hurricane Fly. We are happy with the run of Thousand Stars - I was going to aim him at the Arkle but I schooled him once or twice and he jumped too big and I thought that I couldn’t do enough with him over fences before here.

“Hurricane Fly has been unlucky with a suspensory ligament and a splint. He is just hard on himself and he is like a rubber ball to sit on. He has to be doing something all of the time so you need someone cool on him every day. In his work, you can’t ask him for everything because he just does too much and that’s why he injures himself. He has not done full-speed work at home and Paul has done half-speed all year. We minded him last year because we thought we had a star and thankfully it worked out. If you know you have something good you just have to wait

“I’ve been counting down the days and minutes until this race The minutes were like hours towards the end but, once I legged Ruby up and got him off down to the start, the relief was there. I was afraid that he would get a kick in the parade ring at the last minute.”



2010-WINNER-BINOCULAR 6-11-10 Owner-J P McManus; Trainer-Nicky Henderson; Jockey-A P McCoy; SP-9/1
2ND-Khyber Kim 8-11-10 Owner-Caroline Mould; Trainer-Nigel Twiston-Davies; Jockey-Paddy Brennan; SP-7/1
3RD-Zaynar 5-11-10 Owner- Men In Our Position; Trainer-Nicky Henderson; Jockey-Andrew Tinkler; SP-15/2
12 ran, Time-3m 53.80s; Dist-3½, 6 11/4 Fav Go Native (10th)

2009-WINNER-PUNJABI 6-11-10 Owner-Raymond Tooth; Trainer-Nicky Henderson; Jockey-Barry Geraghty; SP-22/1
2ND-Celestial Halo 5-11-10 Owner-The Stewart Family; Trainer-Paul Nicholls; Jockey-Ruby Walsh; SP-17/2
3RD-Binocular 5-11-10 Owner-J P McManus; Trainer-Nicky Henderson; Jockey-Tony McCoy; SP-6/4 Fav
23 ran, Time-4m 0.90s; Dist- nk, hd

2008-WINNER-KATCHIT 5-11-10 Owner-D S J P Syndicate; Trainer-Alan King; Jockey-Robert Thornton; SP-10/1
2ND-Osana 6-11-10 Owner-Thomas Barr; Trainer-David Pipe; Jockey-Tom Scudamore; SP-9/2
3RD-Punjabi 5-11-10 Owner-Raymond Tooth; Trainer-Nicky Henderson; Jockey-Barry Geraghty; SP-25/1
15 ran, Time-4m 8.10s; Dist-1, 5 2/1 Fav Sizing Europe (14th)

2007-WINNER-SUBLIMITY 7-11-10 Owner-Bill Hennessy; Trainer-John Carr IRE; Jockey-Philip Carberry; SP-16/1
2ND-Brave Inca 9-11-10 Owner-Novices Syndicate; Trainer-Colm Murphy IRE; Jockey-Ruby Walsh; SP-11/2
3RD-Afsoun 5-11-10 Owner-Trevor Hemmings; Trainer-Nicky Henderson; Jockey-Mick Fitzgerald; SP-28/1
10 ran, Time-3m 55.70s; Dist-3, nk 6/4 Fav Detroit City (6th)

2006-WINNER-BRAVE INCA 8-11-10 Owner-Novices Syndicate; Trainer-Colm Murphy IRE; Jockey-Tony McCoy; SP-7/4 Fav
2ND-Macs Joy 7-11-10 Owner-Mac’s J Racing Syndicate; Trainer-Jessica Harrington IRE; Jockey-Barry Geraghty; SP-13/2
3RD-Hardy Eustace 9-11-10 Owner-Lar Byrne; Trainer-Dessie Hughes IRE; Jockey-Conor O’Dwyer; SP-11/2
18 ran. Time-3m 50.00s; Dist-1, 3½

2005-WINNER-HARDY EUSTACE 8-11-10 Owner-Lar Byrne; Trainer-Dessie Hughes IRE; Jockey-Conor O’Dwyer; SP-
7/2 Jt Fav
2ND-Harchibald 6-11-10 Owner-Des Sharkey; Trainer-Noel Meade IRE; Jockey-Paul Carberry; SP-7/1
3RD-Brave Inca 7-11-10 Owner-Novices Syndicate; Trainer-Colm Murphy IRE; Jockey-Barry Cash; SP-10/1
14 ran, Time-3m 51.50s; Dist-nk, nk 7/2 Jt Fav Back In Front (9th)

2004-WINNER-HARDY EUSTACE 7-11-10 Owner-Lar Byrne; Trainer-Dessie Hughes IRE; Jockey-Conor O’Dwyer; SP-33/1
2ND-Rooster Booster 10-11-10 Owner-Terry Warner; Trainer-Philip Hobbs; Jockey-Richard Johnson; SP-11/8 Fav
3RD-Intersky Falcon 7-11-10 & Jacqui O’Neill; Trainer: Jonjo O’Neill; Jockey-Liam Cooper; SP-8/1
14 ran, Time-3m 54.50s; Dist-5, 4

2003-WINNER-ROOSTER BOOSTER 9-12-00 Owner-Terry Warner; Trainer-Philip Hobbs; Jockey-Richard Johnson; SP-9/2
2ND-Westender 7-12-00 Owner-Matt Archer & Jean Broadhurst; Trainer-Martin Pipe; Jockey-Rodi Greene; SP-33/1
3RD-Rhinestone Cowboy 7-12-00 Owner-Sue Magnier; Trainer-Jonjo O’Neill; Jockey-Norman Williamson; SP-5/2
Fav 17 ran, Time-3m 54.70s; Dist-11, 3

2002-WINNER-HORS LA LOI III 7-12-00 Owner-Paul Green; Trainer-James Fanshawe; Jockey-Dean Gallagher; SP-10/1
2ND-Marble Arch 6-12-00 Owner-Martin Wilson, Rory Sweet and Mary Wilson; Trainer-Hughie Morrison; Jockey-Ruby Walsh; SP-25/1
3RD-Bilboa 5-11-09 Owner-Jorg Vasicek; Trainer-Francois Doumen FR; Jockey-Thierry Doumen; SP-14/1
15 ran, Time-3m 53.80s; Dist- 3, ½ 2/1 Fav Istabraq (pu)

2001 Cancelled

2000-WINNER-ISTABRAQ 8-12-00 Owner-J P McManus; Trainer-Aidan O’Brien IRE; Jockey-Charlie Swan; SP-8/15 Fav
2ND-Hors La Loi III 5-12-00 Owner-Paul Green; Trainer-Francois Doumen FR; Jockey-Dean Gallagher; SP-11/1
3RD-Blue Royal 5-12-00 Owner-Lynn Wilson; Trainer-Nicky Henderson; Jockey-Mick Fitzgerald; SP-16/1
12 ran, Time-3m 48.10s; Dist-4, nk

1999-WINNER-ISTABRAQ 7-12-00 Owner-J P McManus; Trainer-Aidan O’Brien IRE; Jockey-Charlie Swan; SP-4/9 Fav
2ND-Theatreworld 7-12-00 Owner-Sue Magnier; Trainer-Aidan O’Brien IRE; Jockey-Tommy Treacy; SP-16/1 3RD-French Holly 8-12-00 Owner-Kieran Flood; Trainer-Ferdy Murphy; Jockey-Andrew Thornton; SP-11/2
14 ran, Time 3m 56.7s; Dist-3½, 2½

1998-WINNER-ISTABRAQ 6-12-00 Owner-J P McManus; Trainer-Aidan O’Brien IRE; Jockey-Charlie Swan; SP-3/1 Fav
2ND-Theatreworld 6-12-00 Owner-Sue Magnier; Trainer-Aidan O’Brien IRE; Jockey-Tommy Treacy; SP-20/1
3RD-I’m Supposin 6-12-00 Owner-Nicholas Cooper; Trainer-Richard Rowe; Jockey-Richard Dunwoody; SP-6/1
18 ran, Time 3m 49.1s; Dist-12, 1

1997-WINNER-MAKE A STAND 6-12-00 Owner-Peter Deal; Trainer-Martin Pipe; Jockey-Tony McCoy; SP-7/1
2ND-Theatreworld 5-12-00 Owner-Sue Magnier; Trainer-Aidan O’Brien IRE; Jockey-Norman Williamson; SP-33/1
3RD-Space Trucker 6-12-00 Owner-Elaine Queally; Trainer-Jessica Harrington IRE; Jockey-John Shortt; SP-9/2
17 ran, Time-3m 48.4s, Dist-5, ¾ 7/2 Fav Large Action (pu)

1996-WINNER-COLLIER BAY 6-12-00 Owner-Wally Sturt; Trainer-Jim Old; Jockey-Graham Bradley; SP-9/1
2ND-Alderbrook 7-12-00 Owner-Ernie Pick; Trainer-Kim Bailey; Jockey-Richard Dunwoody; SP-10/11 Fav
3RD-Pridwell 6-12-00 Owner-Jones, Berstock and Fleet Partnership; Trainer-Martin Pipe; Jockey-Chris Maude;
SP-33/1 16 ran, Time-3m 59.0s, Dist-2½, 6

1995-WINNER-ALDERBROOK 6-12-00 Owner-Ernie Pick; Trainer-Kim Bailey; Jockey-Norman Williamson; SP-11/2
2ND-Large Action 7-12-00 Owner-Brian Stewart-Brown; Trainer-Oliver Sherwood; Jockey-Jamie Osborne; SP-4/1 Jt Fav
3RD-Danoli 7-12-00 Owner-Dan O’Neill; Trainer-Tom Foley IRE; Jockey-Charlie Swan; SP-4/1 Jt Fav
14 ran, Time-4m 03.1s, Dist-5, 2

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