Hurricane Fly wins Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown

Hurricane Fly completed a hat-trick of Irish Champion Hurdle wins with a comfortable success at Leopardstown.

It was the nine-year-old's 14th Grade One win and he becomes the first horse since Istabraq to win this feature on more than two occasions.

Hurricane Fly, ridden by Ruby Walsh, eased past long-time leader Thousand Stars coming off the final bend.

Thousand Stars hung on to beat Tony McCoy's Binocular on the line to make it a 1-2 for trainer Willie Mullins.

Hurricane Fly (1-6 favourite) won by five lengths.

"He is back to himself this year - he has come back a lot stronger.," said Mullins.

"He is well used to these conditions and he flies through that ground so everything went according to plan.

"When you look at the race it was a tip-top race. Everything had gone 100% in his preparation."

Hurricane Fly had been a scintillating winner of this prestigious event 12 months ago but suffered an odds-on reverse when defending his crown in the Champion Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.

However, he is rated around a 5-2 chance to regain his title on 12 March.

"Ruby said he is as good as he ever saw him," added Mullins.

"He gave him a squeeze turning off the last bend and said it was just like he had jumped in.

"He took off like he was on summer ground and I just hope to keep him in that form over the next six or seven weeks.

"I have had faith in him all year and he seems to be in the sort of form he was two years ago."