GBI RACING

Owner Nick Peacock praises 'wonderful' Arctic Fire as he bows out

Arctic Fire

Owner Nick Peacock has paid tribute to Arctic Fire after the top-class hurdler was retired.

The Willie Mullins-trained nine-year-old won five of his 19 starts over jumps including the 2015 Hatton's Grace Hurdle at Fairyhouse and the County Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival last March.

He also chased home esteemed stable companion Faugheen in the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham and the Punchestown Champion Hurdle two years ago and was placed behind another illustrious former Closutton inmate, Hurricane Fly, in a Ryanair Hurdle and and Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown.

Despite achieving a rating pushing 170 at his peak, Peacock feels injuries prevented his charge reaching his full potential.

Hesaid: "He's been a wonderful horse and it's just a shame his career was curtailed by injury.

"He gave us our second win in the County Hurdle after Wicklow Brave, who won it a couple of years earlier.

"He won a Grade One in the Hatton's Grace and if Faugheen wasn't there, he'd have won a Champion Hurdle.

"He'd also have won an Aintree Hurdle (in 2015) if he hadn't fallen at the last. I think that was the start of his woes as he was down on the ground for 10 or 12 minutes, the screens were up and we feared the worst.I suppose you could say everything he did after that was a bonus.

"I don't think we ever really saw the best of him, to be honest.

"We'll find him a nice home now for his retirement."

Despite Arctic Fire hanging up his racing shoes, Peacock believes he could still have a lively outsider for this year's Unibet Champion Hurdle in the aforementioned Wicklow Brave.

A runway winner of the County Hurdle in 2015, the nine-year-old was not disgraced in finishing seventh in last season's Champion Hurdle after blowing the start.

He went on to claim a surprise victory in the Punchestown Champion Hurdle under the trainer's son, Patrick Mullins, beating the three-time Champion Hurdle runner-up My Tent Or Yours.

Wicklow Brave has not been seen in competitive action since finishing down the field in the Melbourne Cup for the second time in November, but has been pencilled in for a return to the Cotswolds.

Peacock added: "He had a nice holiday after the Melbourne Cup, but he's back in work now and hopefully we might get him back for Cheltenham.

"In the year we're in, if everything went right, I think he could be there or thereabouts in the Champion Hurdle.

"When you look at the form of Buveur D'Air and My Tent Or Yours, if he (Wicklow Brave) runs up to his best he wouldn't be miles behind them."

Wicklow Brave is a general 25-1 shot to claim the two-mile hurdling crown at Cheltenham on March 13.

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