Hurricane Fly: The legendary hurdler
Hurricane Fly or "The Fly" was one of Ireland's most successful racehorses over hurdles. He started his career on the flats, but after a disappointing start there, he was sold to George Creighton and put under the stewardship of Willie Mullins in preparation for a new National Hunts career.
Under Mullins' patient and practiced guidance, the little bay gelding, one of Montjeu's finest progeny, would hit his stride over the Hunt's fences and ditches. His blistering hurdling debut at Punchestown Racecourse turned many heads, but what would follow was a hurdling career marked with spell-binding performances that captivated the horse racing nation. He had a blistering career marked with record-breaking milestones.
He won the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham in March of 2011 and repeated the feat in 2013. On achieving this, he became the first horse in 38 years to win the Champion Hurdle twice.
A few top-class Irish hurdlers continue to excite, but few, if any, possess The Fly's physical brilliance and fierce competitiveness. Race days with Hurricane Fly as a starter were always filled with fanfare and excitement, and even in his retirement that began in August 2015, Hurricane Fly remains one of the best hurdlers and a main front runner for the greatest of all-time tag.
Hurricane Fly's Profile
Place of birth: The Irish National Stud, Kildare Ireland
Date of birth: 5 April 2004
Age of death: Alive as of Dec 2020
Racing career: 2006 - 2015
Owner: George Creighton & Rose Boyd
Trainer: Willie Mullins
Jockey: Ruby Walsh (18 of his 26 victories)
Record at the hurdles: 32: 24-3-3
Career earnings: £1,894,422
Hurricane Fly's Achievements
The Ultimate Hurdler, Hurricane Fly hurdles career was one of the most successful of any horse. Under the presiding eye of Willie Mullins, Hurricane Fly's enjoyed a seven-year period of dominance that earned him an impressive trophy haul and record-breaking earnings for his connections.
His debut hurdling race, a win at the Punchestown Racecourse in May, was followed by a Grade three triumph at the Gras Savoye Prix de Longchamp Hurdle, France. With this blistering start, the short bay gelding showed that he was at home at the hurdles.
In his senior hurdles debut in the 2009-2010 season, The Fly managed to win and record a third-place finish. Injuries, however, meant that he would be sidelined for most of the season. As a senior hurdler in the 2010-2011 season, Hurricane Fly would win five on the trot, including the National Hunt holy grail, the Champion Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.
He would lose the Champion Hurdle in the 2011-2012 season to Rock on Ruby but regain it in 2013, winning by an impressive two and a half lengths at Cheltenham. In that same season, Hurricane Fly would equal Kauto Star and John Henry in most grade one races by winning the Punchestown Champion Hurdle, his fourth consecutive win there.
While the younger Jezki and Faugheen thwarted his attempts to win the Champion hurdle again in the 2013-14 and 2014-15 season, The Fly went on to rack up 22 grade one wins in his career. This feat remained a record till Winx, the brilliant Australian Mare, broke it.
Some of The Fly's major wins include 2 Champion Hurdles, 3 Morgiana Hurdles, 4 Punchestown Champion Hurdles, 5 Irish Champion Hurdles, 4 December Festival Hurdles, and a Hatton Grace Hurdle.
By National Hunt standards, Hurricane Fly was not big, but he was very competitive. His trainer Willie Mullins described him as a legend of a horse. He commented that in the race track, The Fly had everything. He was brave and aggressive, and like a little terrier, gave his all as he battled to the finish. His stamina and speed won him races, and his never die attitude meant that he could spring back after being written off.
While he was always ready to battle at any racecourse, it is the Leopardstown race track he made his fortress. In his ten races there, he was unbeaten. In his career's twilight, some races at Leopardstown were close, but he always found a way of finishing ahead of his younger opponents.
His star jockey, multiple Irish Champion, Ruby Walsh, referred to him as the best hurdler he had ever sat on and compared him to the hurdling legend Istabraq.
Hurricane Fly was a lovable horse with an infectious profile. His trademark explosive turn of foot, slick jumping, and toughness in battle made for must-see encounters. When he raced, an unmistakable air of excitement gripped the racing community, and from this, you could tell that a special horse was around.