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.

UK Racecourses - What are the Classic Courses in British Horse Racing? The UK is blessed with dozens of iconic racecourses and they play host to some of the world’s most prestigious meetings. Every year the finest sprinters, chasers and stayers from across the globe descend upon Britain to vie for fame and fortune in races like the 2000 Guineas, the Grand National and the Derby. Brits are lucky to have 60 different racecourses to visit throughout the years but a handful of them really stand out:

Ascot

Ascot is the beating heart of the £3.7 billion UK horse racing industry. It plays host to 13 of Britain’s 36 annual Group 1 races, including the fabled King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes. Queen Anne founded Ascot in 1711 after becoming impressed with the area’s potential while out hunting in nearby Windsor Forest. The Royal Family retains extremely close links to the racecourse, arriving en masse each year for Royal Ascot, the richest and most prestigious meeting in the British calendar.

It features eight Group 1 races and 19 Group races in total, spread over five days of thrilling action. The world’s finest horses, jockeys and trainers jet in to pit their wits against the titans of the British racing scene, and the resulting battles are always exhilarating. Each year, 300,000 racegoers don their finest garbs and attend Royal Ascot to watch races like the Gold Cup, the Queen Anne Stakes and the Prince of Wales’s Stakes. In 2013, Queen Elizabeth II wept tears of joy as she became the first reigning monarch to win the Gold Cup in the 207-year history of the race, courtesy of a fine performance from Estimate.

Ascot features racing throughout the year, including both flat and National Hunt meetings on the mixed purpose track. There are 26 days of racing in total and you are guaranteed an exciting spectacle, while the entertainment and cuisine maintain a remarkably high standard throughout the year. Brits have enjoyed horse racing since Roman times and it is often referred to as the “sport of kings”. Ascot is the ultimate destination for anyone that wants to appreciate its heritage and links to the royals.

Cheltenham

Cheltenham is the spiritual home of the National Hunt scene. It hosts all of the most prestigious races of the jumps racing season during a four-day bonanza each March, including the Cheltenham Gold Cup, the Queen Mother Champion Chase, the Champion Hurdle and the Stayers’ Hurdle. There are 14 Grade 1 races at the Cheltenham Festival and it is here that reputations are made, legends are born and champions are crowned. The Gold Cup is the blue riband event of the season, but the four-day meeting is packed full of prestigious renewals.

The Cheltenham Festival is the biggest horse racing betting event in the UK, as the bookmakers enjoying a roaring trade in the build-up to the meeting and during the four days of action. Cheltenham also hosts an eagerly anticipated meeting each November, which is when the National Hunt season really begins in earnest. The racecourse is set on 350 acres in the heart of the Cotswolds, and it is a huge economic contributor to the region. Every year it attracts hundreds of thousands of tourists, and they are treated to some truly elating action.

Aintree

Aintree is the home of Britain’s most famous race, the Grand National. This epic steeplechase takes place over 4 miles and 514 yards on the gruelling course, and the runners must clear a total of 30 fences. They include such terrifying obstacles as The Chair, Becher’s Brook and Canal Turn, and many horses fall in the commotion. Finishing the race is a laudable feat in itself, and winning it ensures immortality. Tiger Roll earned legendary status when he won it for the second consecutive year in 2019, putting him up alongside Red Rum in the all-time pantheon of greats. 

Brits love betting on the Grand National. People with zero interest in wagering throughout the entire year will have a flutter on the race. It is also world-famous, beamed out to a TV audience of more than 500 million people across the globe. Yet Aintree is by no means a one-hit wonder, as it also plays host to 11 Grade 1 races and hosts a number of exciting race days throughout the year.

Newmarket

Newmarket is often referred to as the headquarters of the British horseracing scene as it is home to the UK’s largest cluster of training yards. The racecourse itself has hosted prestigious racing since 1667. It is the venue for two of the five Classics – the 2000 Guineas and the 1000 Guineas – and a total of nine out of the 36 Group 1 races held in the UK each year. There are two tracks, the Rowley Mile and the July Course, which alternate throughout the year. Newmarket is one of the best attended racecourses in Britain and it makes a great day out in the summer.

York

Racing in York dates back to at least the Roman times and perhaps even to the Neolithic era. York Racecourse is blessed with a fascinating heritage and it stands as one of Yorkshire’s main tourist attractions, replete with archaeological wonders and friendly crowds. Big races include the Ebor Handicap, the Yorkshire Oaks and the Nunthorpe Stakes. York has also hosted the races that normally take place at Ascot when the Berkshire course was being renovated. It offers the third largest total prize money of any racecourse in Britain on an annual basis.

Goodwood

Goodwood is one of the most beautiful racecourses in the world. The Sussex Downs provide a picturesque backdrop in a region populated with quintessentially English villages and cosy pubs. The track at Goodwood is unique due to its quirky undulations, and it represents an intriguing test for the various runners that attempt to conquer it. The most prestigious annual meeting is Glorious Goodwood, which includes big races like the Sussex Stakes and the Nassau Stakes. The Spring Meeting and Autumn Meeting are also well attended by major trainers and racegoers alike.

Doncaster

Doncaster is another fantastic Yorkshire racecourse and it is the scene for the beginning and end of the UK flat racing season. The Spring Meeting kicks things off in April and the campaign draws to a close with the St Leger Meeting in September. The St Leger Stakes is a Group 1 race and so is the Racing Post Trophy, which is also held here. Doncaster is a mixed course, offering both flat and National Hunt racing throughout the year, and it offers a great opportunity to glimpse superstars of the future due to its proximity to several big training yards.

Epsom

Every year Epsom hosts The Derby, one of the world’s most famous races. It has spawned many copycats, including the Kentucky Derby, but The Derby at Epsom is the original and the best. Legends like Shergar, Sea The Stars and Reference point have triumphed there, and it always attracts superstars from across the globe. Epsom, located in the Surrey countryside near London, has a crowd capacity of 130,000 and that creates an electric atmosphere for the big race. The Oaks is another big race held each year at Epsom, as is the Coronation Cup. Haydock, Hamilton, Newbury and Kempton also deserve an honourable mention on any list of the biggest racecourses in Britain.

Hexham racecourse Hexham racecourse is a thoroughbred racing track located in Hexam, England. It was opened way back in 1740, and is well known for hosting National Hunt races. The left-handed track is situated about two miles to the south of Hexham town, 800 feet above the sea level. Its location makes it the most preferred destination to most racegoers as it is engulfed with a cool serene environment with a natural amphitheater below its stands, providing an excellent view. The racecourse measures up to approximately 1.5 miles and has a total of ten fences per circuit.

 

Records show that racing took place in Hexham as from 1793. Due to unknown reasons, the races ceased happening for some years till in the early 1890 when a group of local gentlemen decided to reintroduce it. They turned to Charles Henderson, a rich businessman for help and he did not disappoint them. Mr. Henderson made it his
personal mission to revive and manage the racecourse, and by the beginning of 1890, the course was ready for use. Unlike other racecourses, Hexham did not close down after the break out of the World War 1.Instead, it continued to flourish as its facilities were improved. It also survived the World War 2 because it was used as a depot for ammunition by the War Department. Since then, the course has been undergoing improvements each year.

The most notable race run at Hexham is the Heart of All England Maiden Hunters’ Chase. This race takes place each late April or early May. It is run over a distance of 3 miles 1 furlong. It is regarded as a final cup for steeplechase.

 

The racecourse
offers choices of enclosures to the racegoers according to prices. There are
two types, the Club enclosure and the Paddock Enclosure. Charges for admissions
to Club enclosure are 18 Euros per head, while that of Paddock enclosure is 10
Euros.