Hurricane Fly finally resurfaces at Leopardstown tomorrow, albeit in something of a no-win situation.
Quite rightly, after looking the best since Istabraq at the Festival last year, he remains favourite for the Stan James Champion Hurdle in March, despite postponements of his comeback. As such, failure to dismiss four rivals for the BHP Irish Champion Hurdle would be seen as cause for disquiet.
But each of his opponents will be much fitter than the champion, whose priority remains six weeks away, and nobody should be too alarmed so long as he runs a respectable race.
First off, he will concede 9lb to Unaccompanied, while his own stablemate, Thousand Stars, might prove tough to reel in if ridden more positively than when behind that mare at the Christmas meeting. Oscars Well, obliged to cut out the running that day, is likely to finish off his race better if given a decent pace to run at.
With his horses on such an amazing roll, Willie Mullins will know exactly where he stands with Hurricane Fly. If he is happy tomorrow, nobody else should presume to be any less happy. "He did a lovely bit of work in Leopardstown [on 5 January] and all his work since has been good," he said. "He'd been disappointing me up to Leopardstown, and having a good workout on grass just put him right."
The stable's strength is such that he runs two of the most exciting young hurdlers around, Boston Bob and Make Your Mark, against each other on the same card. He also saddles Blackstairmountain against the darling of a much smaller stable, Flemenstar, in a Grade One novice chase, but perhaps the top chasing prospect on view is Hidden Cyclone on today's card.