Former Cheltenham Champion Hurdler Faugheen, who was pulled up on his last run at Leopardstown, returned to the South Co. Dublin track to redeem his reputation in the BHP Insurance Irish Champion Hurdle (Grade 1) on Saturday.
Sent off the warm-priced 9-10 favourite, Faugheen took up the early running and led most of the way in the 2 mile contest, looking much more like his old self, though jockey Paul Townend would later confirm that his mount didn’t seem as good to him as earlier this season.
Jessica Harrington has had remarkable success over the past 12 months, especially with Our Duke winning the Irish Grand National and Sizing John claiming Gold Cups at Leopardstown, Cheltenham and Punchestown. Supasundae (8/1), runner up to the classy Apple’s Jade over three miles in a Grade 1 contest at the Leopardstown Christmas Festival, provided the Co-Kildare-based trainer with another Grade 1 success when holding off Faugheen in the closing stages of the main race on Day 1 of the Dublin Racing Festival 2018.
Despite Faugheen’s best effort he could never quite shake off Supasundae who tailed him all the way over the 2 mile distance before taking charge after the last flight of hurdles for a two and a quarter length success.
Winning trainer Jessica Harrington couldn’t hide her delight with a horse that has been entered for the longer SunBets Stayers Hurdle at Cheltenham winning the 2-mile event:
“I came here as a prep race for the 3m hurdle at Cheltenham – that’s some prep race. He’s only in the 3m hurdle at Cheltenham so that’s where he’s going.”
Faugheen’s puzzled owner Rich Ricci couldn’t hide his disappointment following his star horse’s defeat, admitting:
“Faugheen is 10 after all. He ran well, just didn’t win, whatever the reason I don’t know, he was better than the last day – but no real answers!”
Gordon Elliott’s Mick Jazz (8/1) who won the Ryanair Hurdle at Leopardstown’s Christmas Festival finished in third place. His trainer revealed that the US-owned horse will go to the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham before attempting to win the American Grand National.