Hurricane's next flight grounded till Christmas

 

His own infirmities would seem far more likely to undermine Hurricane Fly's dominion than the potency of any rival. It was unnerving, then, to learn that the champion hurdler so disappointed in a routine canter yesterday that his comeback – scheduled for Punchestown on Sunday – is now to be postponed until the Leopardstown Christmas meeting.

Imperious in the Champion Hurdle last season, Hurricane Fly had missed the two previous Festivals with injury. When everything is functioning, he looks the best hurdler since Istabraq. But he is evidently not matching that status at home, for now, and is 7-4 from 6-4 by Coral for the defence of his crown in March.

Happily, his trainer reports no new structural problem. "I was just not happy with him," Willie Mullins explained. "A good few of mine have been backward, and I was conscious of ante-post betting on the race so didn't want to wait until Friday. He'll not run until I'm happy with him again – and at the moment I'm gearing him towards Christmas."

A treble at Fairyhouse in the afternoon comforted Mullins that his string is now finding its rhythm, with Sous Les Cieux especially impressive in a maiden hurdle. "He shows a lot at home and while he's still a bit novicey, he'll be better horse in a race with more pace," Mullins said. "He'll have no trouble coming back to two miles, and I'd not be afraid to bring him anywhere."

Another reigning Cheltenham champion does remain on course for his reappearance this weekend, with Long Run lining up for the Betfair Chase at Haydock on Saturday. Before finally surrendering centre stage to the jumpers, however, Flat racing's elite gathered in Mayfair on Tuesday evening to salute its finest achievers of 2011.

Seldom in the 21-year history of the Cartier Awards can Horse of the Year have been less contentious. Frankel's trainer, Sir Henry Cecil, had been knighted earlier in the day and received this latest honour – alongside Teddy Grimthorpe, racing manager to Khaled Abdullah – with due satisfaction. "Every sport needs a champion," Cecil said. "And Frankel, though slightly wayward to begin with, seems to have settled down and decided he wants to be one. As long as everything goes right, and he gets through the winter, then next year there's a chance he might go on from strength to strength. Let's hope he does, for the good of racing and the racing public."

Invoking the late American trainer in whose honour the colt was named, Grimthorpe remarked: "I think when future champions come to be judged, they'll find the bar has been set very high by Bobby Frankel, Henry Cecil and Frankel himself."

The Award of Merit went to Barry Hills, who ended a 42-year training career this summer. "I'd like to think racing could be kept fun," he said. "It's a game of intrigue, fascination and it wants a bit of spice in it."

Unabashed, the British Horseracing Authority yesterday detailed a series of fresh disciplinary cases – one of which concerns explanations offered by Kieren Fallon for failing to arrive in time for his first two rides at Chester on 5 May. He faces an inquiry on Monday.

Turf account

Chris McGrath's nap

Dissent (5.50 Kempton)

Handicapper has been cautious with this one, who had little to beat in his maiden last time, but easy to see why after he did the job with such flair.

Next best

Barrie Burn (2.50 Market Rasen)

Well backed on his return, having shown glimpses of promise as a novice, and went strongly for a long way until starting to hang and pulled up three out.

One to watch

Sir Roger (Jonjo O'Neill) has hinted at ability for the longer term.

Where the money's going King Of The Night is 3-1 from 7-2 with the sponsors for the Coral Hurdle at Ascot on Saturday.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper / Office Co-ordinator

£9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This role is based within a small family run ...

Recruitment Genius: Designer - Print & Digital

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Design and marketing agenc...

Recruitment Genius: Quantity Surveyor

£46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This property investment firm are lookin...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales / Telemarketing Executive - OTE £30k / £35k plus

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company specialises provid...

Day In a Page

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003