Faugheen leads home Mullins 1,2,3 in Champion Hurdle
Faugheen justified the confidence of connections to take the Champion Hurdle with a classy performance, leading home a 1,2,3 for trainer Willie Mullins in the process. Ruby Walsh had made the tough decision of getting off of dual Champion Hurricane Fly to take the ride on the new kid on the block and it was a decision well made as the Rich Ricci owned 7yo could hardly have been more impressive.
Unbeaten in seven racecourse starts before today, Faugheen had never been tested against the likes of today’s rivals but, despite this, was sent off a 4/5 favourite. With no one keen to make the running, Walsh made the decision to send his mount to the front from the off and was happy enough to set a steady pace throughout.
They eventually quickened as the turn for home loomed but the field was still tightly packed with, defending Champion, Jezki, The New One and Hurricane Fly all still within touching distance. A mistake two out stopped Faugheen momentarily but he picked up again and having jumped the last nicely went on to win with a little in hand.
Stablemate Arctic Fire, who continues to improve at a rate of knots, stayed on impressively to take second, with the gallant Hurricane Fly running another fantastic race back in third. It was the first time in history that a trainer had recorded a 1,2,3 in the prestigious contest and Mullins was full of praise for all three of his performers.
He said: “Faugheen was fantastic and Ruby was fantastic on Faugheen. He just dictated the pace, did what he wanted when he wanted and quickened when he wanted.
“I thought Hurricane Fly ran a fantastic race throughout and Arctic Fire – I think there is far more improvement in him than any of the rest of them.”
Walsh, who had recorded a hat-trick on the card, said: “It was a tough decision not to ride Hurricane Fly as I knew he was in great nick.
“He (Faugheen) is a wonderful horse. He jumped better other than missing the second last – pinged the last and stayed on really well. He is not slow. No one else wanted to make it so I was going to go my fractions in front, I wasn’t going to go theirs.
“It is some training performance to train the 1,2,3 and after winning the Supreme. It is a great place to work, the man is a genius. He has a great team of staff around him and it is great to be part of it.”
Kevin Walsh 10/3/15
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