Graham Wylie excited by Nichols Canyon's Christmas mission
Owner Graham Wylie is looking forward to making the trip to Leopardstown over Christmas to see if Nichols Canyon can reaffirm his Champion Hurdle claims in the Ryanair Hurdle.
The Willie Mullins-trained five-year-old struck four times at Grade One level during his novice campaign and inflicted a shock defeat on previously unbeaten stable companion Faugheen on his return to action in last month's Morgiana Hurdle at Punchestown.
Wylie expects the pair to be kept apart until a potential rematch at Cheltenham in March and with Faugheen set to return to Kempton to defend his Christmas Hurdle crown, Nichols Canyon will head to Leopardstown on December 29 for a race won four times by recently-retired former stablemate Hurricane Fly.
Wylie said: " It was a very nice surprise to see him do what he did at Punchestown. Willie told me during the summer we'd go down the Champion Hurdle route, but that we'd try to avoid Faugheen before hopefully meeting him at Cheltenham in March if all went well.
"When they were entered against each other I was surprised and Willie told me not to expect to beat Faugheen. I think he was as surprised as anyone that he did.
"I think the plan will be to go to Leopardstown and hopefully myself and Andrea (wife) will get over there for a few days over Christmas.
"It's just really exciting to have what looks a live candidate for the Champion Hurdle. I've never had one before."
The Wylies have enjoyed a strong start to the season in Ireland, with Bellshill and Up For Review both looking like major players in the novice hurdle division after making impressive starts to their jumping careers in November.
"Bellshill was very good at Cork and I was impressed with Up For Review at Fairyhouse as well, so it's exciting times," said Wylie.
"I'm sure we'll learn more about them when they step up in grade."