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Faugheen turns on the style

Ante-post Champion Hurdle favourite Faugheen toyed with his rivals in the Coral Hurdle at Ascot.

Ruby Walsh made most of the running aboard the Cheltenham Festival-winning six-year-old, who is now unbeaten in seven starts, and was in no particular hurry at the head of affairs, but his companion largely jumped accurately and with economic purpose.

Blue Fashion at least attempted to make a race of it, but a swift jump at the last from the 1-4 favourite confirmed the inevitable and Faugheen won by a carefree three and three-quarter lengths.

The result gave Walsh and trainer Willie Mullins back-to-back victories in the Grade Two after Annie Power struck 12 months ago.

The jockey, who rode a treble on the card, said: "That was mission accomplished. Looking at the runners, we felt we might have to make the running ourselves.

"That was the first run of the year and we knew he was going to improve, so we were not about to make it a test of stamina. He showed a terrific turn of foot. This was just about November. He wasn't going to be 125 per cent fit.

"Once I got the fencing down the hill, he jumped much better form there. He has ticked the first box, he has plenty of big questions to answer, but the dream is alive."

Mullins said: "I'm delighted. Ruby really asked him at the last and he came up for him. He was able to dictate the pace, which he won't always be able to do.

"He looks way stronger than he did at any stage last year. Hopefully I can keep him like that and, if he can improve, who knows.

"I don't know where he'll go next but he has plenty of options and could go up or down in trip."

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