herald

Friday 15 December 2017

Faugheen won't have prep run ahead of Cheltenham

Faugheen
Faugheen

Unbeaten Stan James Champion Hurdle favourite Faugheen is to go straight to Cheltenham without having another run after trainer Willie Mullins opted against including him in either Gowran Park or Wincanton.

Mullins had toyed with the idea last week of running in either the Red Mills Trial Hurdle at his local track or travelling to England with the seven-year-old for the third time this season but after pleasing connections in his piece of work yesterday morning, and discussing the options with stable jockey Ruby Walsh, it has been decided that his two runs and wins earlier in the season were enough to tackle the Champion Hurdle on March 10.

"He worked this morning, we were very happy with him and he's 100 per cent," Mullins said yesterday.

"We had a chat with Ruby this morning and we just felt we'd enough done and we don't need to run him again.

"We're happy with where we are and, all going well, we'll go straight there."

Last season's Herald Champion Novice Hurdle winner is no bigger than 5/4 with any betting firm to win the opening day feature at Cheltenham and is long odds-on to be the choice of Walsh over Hurricane Fly in the race itself.

It had been expected that Faugheen could face his stiffest challenge yet from Champion Hurdle entry Kitten Rock who will put his unbeaten record this season on the line in the Gowran Park Grade Two where the JP McManus-owned five-year-old will now face a maximum of seven rivals.

Mullins has given the Rich Ricci-owned pair of greys Champagne Fever and Ballycasey the two options for the weekend however.

With their respective Cheltenham Festival targets up the air, Mullins has entered both in the Red Mills Chase at Gowran over 2m4f and the Grade One Betfair Ascot Chase over an extended 2m5f.

"I was happy with both horses this morning. We're just going to see what the entries are like."

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