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Faugheen eases to Punchestown win


Faugheen on the way to winning the Herald Champion Novice Hurdle

Faugheen on the way to winning the Herald Champion Novice Hurdle

Faugheen on the way to winning the Herald Champion Novice Hurdle

Faugheen took the drop back in distance in his stride as he made all the running and demolished the opposition in the Herald Champion Novice Hurdle.

Tackling two miles for the first time over timber, the unbeaten Willie Mullins-trained six-year-old jumped much better than he did when winning the Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham.

Ruby Walsh never had an anxious moment as the 1-2 shot asserted on the home turn and sealed victory by completing an almost foot-perfect round with a good jump at the last.

Faugheen was left to come home unchallenged by 12 lengths from his stablemate Valseur Lido, with the Mick Channon-trained Sgt Reckless third.

Paddy Power promoted the winner to 5-1 co-favourite for next year's Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham.

Mullins said: "Vautour (Supreme Novices' Hurdle winner) failed a late fitness test, he wasn't right at the time of declaration so we put Faugheen in instead. On that ground I thought he was very, very good.

"We're not making any decisions on him, but you would have to consider staying over hurdles next season.

"This trip is good enough as he is a keen horse who likes to get on with the job."

Walsh said: "The lad who rides him every day said he'd blow you away and he did.

"I was fairly adamant the run in Cheltenham would improve him a hell of a lot, jumping-wise.

"He'd won soft races and never been tested and today he jumped like a buck down the back. When I opened him up turning in, away he went.

"It was a fair gamble dropping him back to two. It will have Willie scratching his head now.

"Willie had been keen on him going jumping, we're having a debate with what we are going to do with three or four of them, but you'd like to think he'd be in the mix."

Walsh added: "Those were good novices behind and he's beat them by 12 lengths and it could've been 25. He's a really good horse.

"When I changed my hands off the home turn he started to lengthen and he was picking up to a fair rate of knots coming to the last.

"He and Vautour are two different types, but the good thing is Willie Mullins trains the two of them, Rich Ricci owns the two of them, so I won't have to worry about who to pick because they won't run against each other!"