Fly heads Champion field
Hurricane Fly will be a warm order at Leopardstown on Sunday
Last Updated: 18/01/11 1:36pm
Hurricane Fly will be expected to be hard to beat in the Irish Champion.
The exciting Hurricane Fly heads seven confirmations for Sunday's BHP Insurances Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown.
The Willie Mullins-trained seven-year-old has enjoyed a superb campaign, winning both starts with consummate ease, and is vying for favouritism for the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham in March.
Mullins said: "I'm very happy with the horse going into the race."
Hurricane Fly will take on long-term adversary Solwhit, who won the race 12 months ago for trainer Charles Byrnes.
Byrnes said: "Solwhit is going to run in the Irish Champion.
"He has come out of the Paddy Power Festival Hurdle very well when the race turned into a sprint.
"He would have preferred more of a gallop, although he would still not have beaten Hurricane Fly but they would then probably have been a long way ahead of the third.
"The chances of beating Hurricane Fly on Sunday are very, very slim as Hurricane appears to be settling better in his races now and he is much better at the end of his races than he previously was.
"But there is good prize-money - 22,000 euro for second place - but that won't be easy as there are a few other good ones in it.
"It looks a cracking race."
Dunguib, trained by Philip Fenton, has also stood his ground, but has not been sighted since finishing sixth to Hurricane Fly in last season's Rabobank Champion Hurdle at Punchestown last April.
Voler La Vedette is the only mare in contention for the Grade One prize and is reported by Colm Murphy to be on course for the race.
Mullins has also left in Thousand Stars, while former champion hurdler Sublimity remains in contention.
The unbeaten Peddlers Cross still holds an entry, but he is more likely to head to Haydock on Saturday.
Binocular, Donnas Palm, Luska Lad, Silent Oscar and the Mullins duo of Blackstairmountain and Secant Star have been scratched from the field.
BHP Insurances Irish Champion Hurdle
Paddy Power bet: 4-6 Hurricane Fly, 3-1 Solwhit, 9-2 Dunguib, 16-1 Voler La Vedette, 25-1 Sublimity, Thousand Stars