He is not called 'The Machine' for nothing, the brave horse 'Faugheen', who returned to Punchestown yesterday as good as ever, bounding clear in the Grade 1 Morgiana Hurdle as if it was a solo race. In effect, it was, as the rest of the field, including Jezki, never landed a blow.
Trainer Willie Mullins is a pro, and he wouldn't have risked sending Faugheen back onto the racecourse after 22 months off with a stress fracture if he didn't think the 9 year old was back to his best based on evidence of his work at home. In slamming Jezki by 16 lengths, it's like the 2015 Champion Hurdle winner was never away. On a surface analysis, Faugheen only has the current Champion Hurdle winner, 'Buveur D'Air' to worry about and the Rich Ricci owned horse is a worthy favourite for the 2018 renewal at Cheltenham.
It is hoped Faugheen will be reunited with his big race jockey Ruby Walsh, who broke his leg after a fall from Let's Dance on Saturday. Racing can be cruel, and jockeys risk life and limb on a daily basis. Walsh would have been thrilled to be back aboard Faugheen before fate intervened and he didn't deserve such misfortune. He certainly didn't deserve the disgusting online trolling which greeted his fall at Punchestown. Twitter can bring out the worst in humanity, the lowest common denominator of base ignorance and stupidity. Luckily, the majority of humans and sports fans are decent folk, but it's a shame this type of garbage has to cross our radar. I feel that even giving the morons that trolled Republic of Ireland defender Cyrus Christie oxygen is too much in itself, notwithstanding that it deserves police attention.
Back to the Racing. Let's wish Ruby Walsh a speedy recovery and that he returns to the saddle soon, with Faugheen doing his bit by winning in his absence. All roads lead to Cheltenham.
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