Willie Mullins' Faugheen justifies favourite's tag
Faugheen gave Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh another Cheltenham Festival winner with an impressive success in the Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle.
The six-year-old maintained his 100 per cent record as he swept to the front after three out and pulled clear of the opposition.
Faugheen, the 6-4 favourite, passed the post four and a half lengths in front of Ballyalton, with the winner's stablemate, Rathvinden, half a length away in third.
Walsh said: "He had a look at the second-last and I upped the revs.
"Willie said all along that there was a lot under the bonnet and he was right.
"He's a smashing horse."
Mullins said: "I think he wants fences. He has a disregard for hurdles, he just wants to go.
"Fences might make him respect things more."
Cole Harden and Creepy had taken the field along until the third-last, where Faugheen was going ominously well with his main market rival Red Sherlock hot on his heels.
Faugheen made a mistake both three out and at the second-last but he flew the final flight and powered up the hill to win as he liked, making it four wins from four over hurdles and giving Mullins and Walsh their third winner of the meeting.
Ballyalton battled on stoutly to claim the runner-up spot ahead of Rathvinden.
Mullins went on: "I think he blew the third-last and then I thought he might come off the bridle, but he didn't. Ruby let him get back on an even keel and I thought he had every chance then.
"We weren't sure which race to go for as we had a good one for the two-mile race and a good one for the three-mile, so he just slotted in here really.
"I would imagine he's a chaser. He wants fences to maybe make him drop the bridle and travel.
"I think a big fence would make him show a bit more respect and come back on his hocks more."
Asked to compare Faugheen with his Supreme victor Vautour, Mullins added: "Vautour is a different level."