Faugheen given the green light for the Dublin Racing Festival...

Willie Mullins' Champion Hurdler will reappear in February

BY John Duggan 12:56 Monday 15 January 2018, 12:56 15 Jan 2018

We are going to get a real sense of whether the Willie Mullins trained 'Faugheen' is still a machine or a light of other days. The 2015 Cheltenham Champion Hurdle winner will return to the track on Saturday February 3rd in the BHP Insurance Irish Champion Hurdle, which is part of the new Dublin Racing Festival over two days at Leopardstown, featuring 7 Grade 1 contests. 

Faugheen was invincible before injuring a leg two years ago. He returned after 665 days out to win the Morgiana Hurdle at Punchestown in November by 16 lengths. That brilliant performance was followed by a baffling, listless display at Leopardstown when jockey Paul Townend pulled up the horse, who just wasn't himself, in the Ryanair Hurdle on December 29th. There was no clear cut reason, but horses can sometimes find it difficult to return from injury. Not all of Willie Mullins' runners ran brilliantly over Christmas, so we'll get a real sense of Faugheen's well being in February. If he returns to his best, the 5/1 on offer right now for March's showpiece at Cheltenham could be the greatest bit of value of all time! 

Mullins also confirmed today that 'Yorkhill', who put in a laboured display in the 3 mile Leopardstown Christmas Chase on his seasonal reappearance, is to continue being campaigned over fences, now over a shorter trip of 2 miles. A Champion Chase entry on day 2 of Cheltenham is thus a possibility for the talented, but quirky Yorkhill, twice a Festival winner at Prestbury Park. He is best priced 7/1 for the Champion Chase. Funnily enough, it's a race Willie Mullins has never won, with penalty kick 'Douvan' injuring himself during last year's renewal. It's surprising that Mullins has never won the 2 mile championship, as the training legend of Muine Beag has sent out 54 Cheltenham Festival winners.  

Other Mullins entries for Leopardstown include 'Getabird', 'Melon', 'Footpad' and 'Killultagh Vic'. 

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