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Faugheen is heading back to English shores for Christmas


Faugheen (Ruby Walsh) winning the Herald Champion Novice Hurdle Punchestown Festival

Faugheen (Ruby Walsh) winning the Herald Champion Novice Hurdle Punchestown Festival

Faugheen (Ruby Walsh) winning the Herald Champion Novice Hurdle Punchestown Festival

British racegoers are set to have another chance to see Faugheen in the flesh over the festive period after trainer Willie Mullins nominated the William Hill Christmas Hurdle at Kempton on St Stephen's Day as the likely target for his exciting charge.

A brilliant winner at Cheltenham and Punchestown in the spring, Faugheen stretched his unbeaten record under Rules to six with a dominant comeback victory in last month's Coral Hurdle at Ascot.

Now the outright favourite for the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham in March, the six-year-old's credentials are likely to be given a thorough test at Kempton, with The New One expected to be in attendance together with Irving.

Speaking at the Horse Racing Ireland Awards at Leopardstown, where he was asked for a horse to follow, Mullins said: "The horse that's on everyone's lips I suppose is Faugheen, what he did in England (Ascot), the size of him going over there, hopefully there's improvement in him.

"JP (McManus, owner of Champion Hurdle winner Jezki) was telling me I should go to the Christmas Hurdle (at Kempton) and I think I'll take his advice."

Paul Nicholls will bypass Cheltenham at the weekend with Irving in favour of Kempton.

An impressive winner of the Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle, having fallen previously at Wincanton, the son of Singspiel is currently a 16-1 shot for the Champion Hurdle with Hills and Nicholls sees Kempton as the ideal stepping stone.


He said: "Irving in the Christmas hurdle, that has always been his target. I didn't bother entering him for Saturday at Cheltenham because the track will suit him at Kempton.

"It was a great result at Newcastle. He was unlucky at Wincanton when he fell at the last and he needed that run that day. He will improve and will improve again.

"He has loads of speed and the best is best to come."

Irving was winded at Wincanton but obviously showed no ill effects.

Nicholls added: "The minute they do get up they immediately recover. They tend to leave them on the floor to recover and horse was just winded and he get over that. It's not like he had a physical injury.

"On the Monday after his fall, we schooled him and he was fine - he did well to come back for that, but it was not too detrimental to his chances at Newcastle."