Faugheen seeking Christmas redemption at Kempton
Faugheen will try to repair his reputation in the williamhill.com Christmas Hurdle at Kempton on Saturday.
The reigning Champion Hurdle hero has questions to answer after surrendering his unbeaten record to stablemate Nichols Canyon on his reappearance in the Morgiana Hurdle, despite having soundly beaten his fellow Willie Mullins inmate in a gallop the week before.
While Faugheen is long odds-on to repeat his win of 12 months ago, he will have to bounce back from that unexpected defeat.
"Faugheen is good. Whether he did too much in his gallop beforehand or the tactics were wrong I'm not sure," said Mullins.
"I don't think Ruby (Walsh) was worried about Nichols Canyon after the bit of work so maybe it was the tactics, but it was pointless the two of them having a fight for the lead.
"On the day Ruby was happy to take a lead, but we probably didn't realise how good the other fellow could be. We never dreamt he'd be flat, maybe he was. I wasn't concerned that he hung, to me that's what a tired horse did. As I said on the day, he had a sore mouth and that wasn't why he hung.
"He had a bit of a mouth problem (after the Morgiana), but I wouldn't worry about that.
"It will be interesting to see on his next couple of runs whether the form works out or not. Nichols Canyon could be improving.
"On a strict line in the book, you would have to think he was disappointing, but we'll see.
"I'm hoping we'll see the best of him at Kempton. He came out of Punchestown very well. He likes Kempton and I'm hoping he's back to himself. He should be."
Walsh felt he might have underestimated his stable companion but that there will be no excuses this time.
"I maybe didn't show Nichols Canyon enough respect, maybe I went on homework but that can fool you," Walsh told Racing UK.
"When you get beat you always look for a reason, but who knows, by the end of Christmas Nichols Canyon may have won at Leopardstown and the form will look rock solid.
"If I have to make the running I will, all I want is a good, honest gallop. I rode him last week and he seems in really good form. Fingers crossed he'll run his race."