Hurricane Fly wins Champion Hurdle at Punchestown
Hurricane Fly returned to the winners' enclosure by clinching a third successive victory in the Rabobank Champion Hurdle at Punchestown.
The mount of Ruby Walsh, beaten by Rock on Ruby at Cheltenham, took the last in the lead and went on to win by three and a half lengths from Zaidpour.
Thousand Stars, runner-up in 2011, completed a 1-2-3 in the Grade One feature for trainer Willie Mullins.
Hurricane Fly, the 4-11 favourite, was not as convincing as some expected.
"The ground was a bit tacky and maybe he did not like that," said Mullins.
"Ruby thought he would be looking better at the third last but, once he put him to work, he won well enough."
Hurricane Fly was settled at the rear of the four-runner field for much of the two-mile trip.
The eight-year-old made progress to take closer order rounding the home turn, although for a moment it appeared stable companion Zaidpour was going marginally the better.
The pair approached the final flight together and it was Hurricane Fly who produced the better jump and got away from it the quicker to seal the victory.
Earlier, Barry Geraghy's mount Lucky William saw off Blackstairmountain in a thrilling finish to the Ryanair Novice Chase.