Faugheen Can Deliver Magical Farewell Over Fences at Cheltenham

Willie Mullins, especially in recent years, tends to be a lot more forthright when it comes to judging his horses and his own decisions. If he has made a mistake, he will say so. And, if there are doubts over whether a horse can perform well or not, Mullins will say it out loud. The trainer has achieved almost everything there is to desire in national hunt racing, and one would argue that he feels no pressure to hype his chances of success. In short, if Mullins has something to say, it’s worth listening to him. And recently, Mullins has been talking a lot about Faugheen.

The 2015 Champion Hurdle winner has had a glorious career, and while there has been talk of decline and retirement ever since Faugheen failed to defend the Champion Hurdle in 2016, it’s worth noting that he has won a Grade 1 race every year since he exploded onto the scene at the 2014 Cheltenham Festival.

Faugheen lit up Boxing Day races

Of course, his latest Grade 1 victory came over fences, unfamiliar territory for a horse that will always be synonymous with modern hurdling. And, that’s where Mullins believes he made the mistake, with the Carlow-based trainer lamenting the fact that he did not send Faugheen chasing at least a year earlier.

Still, Faugheen seems to be making up for lost time fairly quickly, winning his chasing debut last November and then bringing the house down in Limerick on Boxing Day with a thrilling victory in the Grade 1 Greenmount Park Novices’ Chase. That victory, where Faugheen put Samcro to the sword, really set tongues wagging on the chances of Faugheen doing something as a 12yo chaser.

As we mentioned, Mullins will not oversell the chances of Faugheen. So, when he says things like, “He still looks to be able to put it up to the top ones and it’s extraordinary that he doesn’t seem to have lost his spark at this stage of his career. I’d say he was as good at home as he ever was in the last few weeks.” Punters should take that at face value.

Faugheen favourite for Marsh Novices’ Chase

The upshot of all this is that Faugheen has been made the favourite for the Grade 1 Marsh Novices’ Chase – formerly the JLT Novices’ Chase – at the 2020 Festival. As you can bet on Cheltenham online with ease, it’s not difficult to find price fluctuations, but Faugheen is as high as 8/1 with Unibet and as low as 5/1 with Ladbrokes and Sky Bet. Others getting a mention include Fakir D’Oudairies 10/1, Samcro 12/1 and Champ 14/1.

Have bookies and punters jumped the gun too quickly on Faugheen? Are they backing the name rather than the evidence? One suspects the Dublin Festival next week, in which Faugheen is set to appear, will be pivotal to the betting markets surrounding the hugely popular horse. If Faugheen runs well at Leopardstown, then the odds will tumble. If not, then you will likely see a cooling of the market, and perhaps a decision by Mullins to use him elsewhere at the Festival. Faugheen has entries for the RSA Chase (16/1), the Stayers’ Hurdle (25/1) and National Hunt Chase (20/1).

Faugheen Can Deliver Magical Farewell Over Fences at Cheltenham

But, as it stands, the Marsh Novices’ Chase seems to be the likely route. If all goes well in Dublin next weekend, it will be one of the most scrutinised races of the Festival. Even for Mullins’ incredibly successful operation, Faugheen was a once-in-a-generation horse. You can hear keen affection in the trainer’s voice when he talks about him, and the same could be said for Ruby Walsh when he rode “The Machine” in his peak years. That affection for Faugheen has also found a home in the Cheltenham crowds. There will be no more popular winner at Cheltenham 2020 than “The Machine”.

Stretford-on-Avon Racecourse Stretford racecourse is a thoroughbred, racing track located in Stretford-on-Avon, Warwickshire. It is owned and operated by Stretford-on Avon Racecourse Company, and was opened way back in 1755. The racecourse is famous for staging National Hunt races. It is one of the most popular small racecourses in Britain, thus attracting large
crowds of racegoers to its meetings. A total of 18 meetings are held at Stretford every year. Most of them are scheduled for the summer months. The racecourse has a glass-fronted grandstand, a feature that makes it stand out from many racecourses. It was awarded as the racecourse with the most taken care of racetracks in the whole of Britain.

Racing started taking place officially in Stretford as from 1755. It hosted the Garrick Jubilee Cup in 1769. The racecourse was however closed down a few years later as a result of the horses destroying local crops. The racecourse remained closed for about a century before being opened. It hosted another National Hunt race in 1836, making it officially open for races. By mid-1800s, racing was becoming more and more famous in Britain. The racecourse hosted a good number of well-known races including the Warwickshire Hunt and the Diamond Jubilee Cup. In 1968, Stretford purchased more land, expanding its territories. It hosted the 200th anniversary of Garrick Jubilee Cup Festival in the same year. In memory of the occasion, a hurdling event was introduced, which was run over a distance of 2 miles.

The most notable races held at Stretford are the Warwick and Stretford Foxhunters Meeting, and Ladies and Family Day. The Stretford and Warwick meeting is scheduled to take place at the end of May. The event lasts for two days, and features the Garrick Jubilee Challenge Cup. Ladies Day and Family Day takes place every June, and is all about family and friends enjoying the races.