Friday 25 May 2018

Mullins camp have no explanation for Faugheen's defeat

Willie Mullins
Willie Mullins

Sunday's shock defeat of reigning Champion Hurdle winner Faugheen by his stable companion, Nichols Canyon, was still unexplainable by his trainer Willie Mullins (inset) yesterday.

The champion trainer had last Tuesday watched the 11-time winner work extremely well at the Curragh and finish considerably better than Nichols Canyon but that role was reversed in the first Grade One hurdle of the season when Faugheen lost his unbeaten record.

"Nothing's come to light," Mullins said of Faugheen. "Looking at Faugheen's work last week we couldn't see Faugheen being beaten by Nichols Canyon.


"It was a surprise. Maybe the work just brought on Nichols Canyon more than Faugheen," he said.

"They will just all be well entered up and we'll make a plan in the next week or two."

"The three of them have come out of the race well. We're happy with them and we won't know if we have underestimated Nichols Canyon until his next run but we could easily have."

Although Faugheen was overturned at odds of 1/6, the Mullins heavyweights are now starting to return to action and this weekend could possibly see the return of another as Vautour holds an entry for the Stella Artois 1965 Chase at Ascot this coming Saturday.

Favourite in the betting for the Cheltenham Gold Cup ahead of this years winner, Coneygree, and the highest rated chaser in Ireland or Britain, Don Cossack, Vautour hasn't been seen since his breathtaking performance to win the JLT Novices' Chase at Cheltenham by 15-lengths last March after he missed the Punchestown Festival.

"I've put him in at Ascot and I'm happy with him," said Mullins.

He could indeed face recent Down Royal winner Ptit Zig according to trainer Paul Nicholls.

"He is fine since coming back from Ireland but he wants to be fine, and to find a bit more, if Vautour comes over," he admitted.

A full list of entries won't be available until this afternoon after the race was reopened due to a lack of entries.

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