Champion Hurdle hopefuls, Hurricane Fly and Solwhit meet at Leopardstown

Paddy Power

Champion Hurdle favourite Hurricane Fly lines up against likely Cheltenham Festival rival Solwhit in the Grade 1 iPhone App Festival Hurdle over 2 miles at Leopardstown on Wednesday.

Race sponsor Paddy Power has installed the Willie Mullins six-year-old at odds of 8/13 to register a third victory over his main market rival but the trainer has warned the outcome is not a foregone conclusion.

Mullins’ charge was making his first appearance in eight months when beating Solwhit by one-and-a-half lengths at Fairyhouse on 15 December, but Mullins is being cautious about expectations his Champion Hurdle hopeful will again stamp his authority over Charles Byrnes star hurdler, saying: ”It's by no means a forgone conclusion.

"It will depend on which horse will recover better from Fairyhouse, and Solwhit might recover quicker from that race than us."

Solwhit beat Hurricane Fly when they first met over a year ago, but Mullins horse avenged the three-and-a-half length defeat when winning a neck at the Punchestown Festival in April this year.

Byrnes admits Solwhit faces a tough task horse after missing out a fortnight ago: ”We might have to settle for second again," he said.

"Going to Fairyhouse we thought we could beat Hurricane Fly but we couldn't on the day and it's going to be very hard tomorrow.“

The pair will be taken on by Willie Mullins second runner, his County Hurdle hero Thousand Stars while Luska Lad and Won In The Dark complete the five-runner field.

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