Peace And Co good enough to beat Faugheen - Henderson
The seemingly indestructible Faugheen might be a 1/6 shot to stretch his unbeaten record to 11 on his return Sunday week but Nicky Henderson believes he has a horse that can beat the reigning champion.
Willie Mullins is responsible for half of the 12 entries for the Morgiana Hurdle, of which Annie Power is expected to wait for the Hatton's Grace Hurdle later in the month. The other six should pose no threat to Faugheen in the €85,000 Punchestown Grade One.
Henderson has entered the JP McManus-owned Hargam, and, while he spoke highly on At The Races yesterday of his Triumph Hurdle third and runner-up Top Notch, it was their Cheltenham Festival conqueror that had him waxing lyrical.
"Peace And Co might be something very, very special," he suggested of the Grade One victor. "He is a powerful beast of a four-year-old. Top Notch is a horse I love but he'd never beat Faugheen - Peace And Co could. I think the Triumph Hurdle horses these days are two-milers, not like the old days."
Of the first five in the ante-post betting for the Champion Hurdle, Peace And Co is the only one not trained by the all-conquering Irish champion trainer. Henderson also has number six on the list, McManus' My Tent Or Yours, which could run in the Fighting Fifth Hurdle on November 28.
Grade One-winning chasers Special Tiara, Champagne Fever, Twinlight and Flemenstar could make their respective returns in Sunday's Fortria Chase at Navan, with Gordon Elliott's smooth Punchestown winner Tycoon Prince in line for an intriguing clash with Mullins's smart Long Dog in the card's Grade Three Novices' Hurdle.
Meanwhile, Paul Nicholls' Vibrato Valtat thrust himself into the Tingle Creek Chase picture by overcoming a final-fence blunder to record an otherwise smooth win in yesterday's Haldon Gold Cup at Exeter. At Redcar, Breezolini landed an each-way gamble for Galway handler Muredach Kelly, finishing a neck second after being backed from 16/1 into 8/1.