Faugheen declared for Irish Champion Hurdle

Willie Mullins’ 10-year-old looking to bounce back from Leopardstown disappointment

Faugheen will face seven rivals in the BHP Insurance Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown on Saturday.

The Willie Mullins-trained 10-year-old was a brilliant winner of the two-mile showpiece in 2016 and although he was subsequently sidelined for the best part of two years, he appeared as good as ever when making a sparkling reappearance in the Morgiana Hurdle at Punchestown in November.

However, he returns to Leopardstown with questions to answer after being pulled up in the Ryanair Hurdle at the Foxrock venue over the festive period.

Faugheen is joined in the field by stablemates Melon and Bapaume. Melon was last seen finishing third in the International Hurdle at Cheltenham in December, while Bapaume occupied the same position in the Christmas Hurdle at Leopardstown on his latest appearance.

The Gordon Elliott-trained Mick Jazz was a shock winner of the Ryanair Hurdle following Faugheen’s flop and renews rivalries.

British hopes rest with Philip Hobbs’ Defi Du Seuil. Like Faugheen, last year’s Triumph Hurdle hero has something to prove following a disappointing return at Ascot.

Jessica Harrington’s pair of Jezki and Supasundae and Identity Thief from Henry de Bromhead’s yard complete the line-up, with star novice Samcro the only withdrawal from Tuesday’s confirmation stage.