Faugheen roars back to winning ways in Christmas Hurdle
An injection of pace turning into the home straight helped Faugheen return to winning ways in the williamhill.com Christmas Hurdle at Kempton.
Having lost his unbeaten record to stablemate Nichols Canyon in the Morgiana Hurdle on his return to action this season, the Willie Mullins-trained seven-year-old had a question to answer for the first time in his career.
Ruby Walsh set out to keep it simple by making all on the reigning Champion Hurdle hero, but the field were still closely grouped coming out of the back straight. Without Walsh seemingly making an effort, however, Faugheen (1-4 favourite) sprinted clear and the race was over in a matter of strides.
Approaching the last, Walsh made sure he did not make a mistake and he was eased down close home to beat The New One by seven lengths.
The New One finished second again after filling the same spot in 2013.
Walsh said: "We went a good gallop, when I gave him a squeeze turning in he started to extend and when I really got hold of him going to two out he pinged it. He quickened really, really well. It was a really good performance. I'm delighted.
"The turn of foot he showed today at the second-last he didn't show at Punchestown.
"When all is said and done he has beaten those, whether he's capable of beating Nichols Canyon only time will tell."
Winning owner Rich Ricci said: "I hope he's back, visually that was what we wanted to see today, that kind of performance.
"You can't help but be disappointed with what happened the last day, you just tip your hat to the team but today he's 15 kilos lighter and still has condition on him.
"We'll see where he goes from here, but he usually gets better as the season goes on. I'd be happy to run him again (before Cheltenham), so I'll talk to Willie."
Mullins said: "He did it well, did everything right and I'm very pleased with him. It was a bit of a surprise what happened at Punchestown, but Ruby took the bull by the horns today and it worked.
"He jumped well. I don't know where next, it could be straight to Cheltenham, as that would work for me. It was maybe tactics at Punchestown as Ruby didn't want to get into a battle."