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Cheltenham Festival: Ruby Walsh shines with Faugheen

By Nick Robson

Faugheen was imperious as he led home a Willie Mullins-trained one-two-three in the Stan James Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham.

The 4-5 shot made all the running in the hands of Ruby Walsh, finding plenty when asked to take his unbeaten tally over hurdles to eight.

Arctic Fire (20-1) chased him hard up the hill to take second place, with dual winner Hurricane Fly (8-1) a gallant third.

Walsh said: "He's not slow, no one else wanted to make it and I was going to go my fractions not theirs.

"Willie is a genius and has a great team of staff around him."

Walsh continued: "Faugheen is a wonderful horse. He has jumped better, he missed the second-last.

"It was a massive call not to ride Hurricane Fly. When you see what Hurricane Fly was doing at home, it was a big call to get off him.

"It was some training performance, to have the first two in the Supreme as well."

Saddling his third winner of a dream day, Mullins said: "What a team effort. Ruby said he was going to make it and win it. This is beyond our wildest dreams. It's just too good to be true."

Walsh made his intentions clear as he took Faugheen to the head of the line before the tapes went up.

He set a steady pace with The New One and Jezki, last year's winner, not letting him get too far away until upping the tempo from three out.

There was no let up as Faugheen stormed clear in the straight to win in impressive fashion.

Victory in the feature completed a remarkable hat-trick for Mullins and Walsh in the first three races of the four-day Festival after the wins of Douvan and Un De Sceaux earlier on the card.

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