Hurricane Fly wins Champion Hurdle at Punchestown
Hurricane Fly turned on the style to win the Champion Hurdle at Punchestown for a fourth year in a row.
It was a 16th Grade One success for the classy nine-year-old, trained by Willie Mullins and ridden by Ruby Walsh.
Another Mullins horse, Thousand Stars, was seven lengths behind in second with Cheltenham runner-up Rock On Ruby in third place.
In March, Hurricane Fly became the first horse for 38 years to regain the Champion Hurdle title at Cheltenham.
Thousand Stars and Rock On Ruby set the pace for red hot 1-4 favourite Hurricane Fly for most of the two miles.
Rock On Ruby went to the lead rounding the home turn as the pace gradually increased, with Walsh happy to bide his time aboard one of Ireland's greatest hurdlers.
Once given his head on the run towards the final flight, Hurricane Fly picked up well on the run-in to win in impressive fashion.
With Walsh saluting the crowd, Thousand Stars (14-1) got back up to beat Rock On Ruby to give Mullins a one-two.
"He did a fantastic bit of work last Saturday and he proved it again today," said Mullins.
"He has done everything nice and everything went according to plan.
"Rock On Ruby tried to unsettle things coming round the last bend, but Ruby was cool and calm on our fellow."
Mullins saddles four of the six declared runners for Saturday's feature, the Champion Four Year Old Hurdle.
The fact that Ruby Walsh has opted for Diakali makes him the one to beat, especially after Dessie Hughes decided not to run Our Conor.