Mullins hopeful Faugheen will run in Irish Champion Hurdle

Trainer says horse definitely on course for Cheltenham, for which it remains favourite

Willie Mullins has won the Irish Champion Hurdle for the last six years with Faugheen. Photograph: Inpho

Willie Mullins has won the Irish Champion Hurdle for the last six years with Faugheen. Photograph: Inpho

 

Willie Mullins has issued an upbeat bulletin on Faugheen and is hopeful the horse can return to action in time to defend his BHP Irish Champion Hurdle crown at the end of the month.

The 2016 Champion Hurdle winner put in the highest-rated performance of his stunning career when landing the Leopardstown highlight a year ago but was subsequently injured and hasn’t been seen in action since.

Faugheen has bypassed entries in the Morgiana, the Hatton’s Grace and the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton this season, with Mullins admitting the horse has at times failed to impress him in his work.

5-2 favourite

Despite that Faugheen remains a 5-2 favourite to reclaim his Cheltenham crown in March and is 4-7 “with a run” with Paddy Power for the Leopardstown race in two weeks.

“I’m pleased with him and he’s definitely on course for Cheltenham,” Mullins said on Sunday. “If all goes well hopefully he can run in the Irish Champion beforehand.”

Mullins has won the Irish Champion Hurdle for the last six years with Faugheen following in the footsteps of Hurricane Fly who won the race five years in a row. The ex-Mullins trained Petit Mouchoir is an 11-8 second-favourite after his maiden Grade One success in the Ryanair Hurdle at Christmas.

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