Mullins to run tests after Faugheen shock
Willie Mullins insists he won't be making any rash decisions on the future of Faugheen after he was pulled up behind shock winner Mick Jazz in the Ryanair Hurdle at Leopardstown yesterday.
The 2015 Champion Hurdle hero was sidelined for the best part of two years after winning the 2016 Irish Champion Hurdle, but appeared to have lost none of his ability when dominating his rivals with a brilliant comeback at Punchestown last month.
He was a prohibitively priced 2/11 favourite to stretch his Grade One tally to nine on the final day of Leopardstown's Festival, but after initially adopting his customary pacesetting role, he weakened to the rear of the five-runner field on the run to the second-last flight and Paul Townend took him out of the race.
Townend soon dismounted and Faugheen returned to the racecourse stables by horse ambulance, but little over an hour later Mullins was still at a loss to explain what had happened.
"At the moment Faugheen is sound," said the trainer. "He pulled up sound and the vets have passed him fine. He's not abnormal and not distressed. Paul said he just felt very lacklustre over the first few furlongs and definitely wasn't himself.
"I'm sure something will arise. He might be incubating a cold or something like that, but at the moment we don't have any evidence of anything."
Faugheen jumped the first couple of obstacles in front, but it was clear down the back straight it might not be as straightforward as many expected, with stablemate Cilaos Emery taking over the lead.
"We have to go home and do whatever tests we can do and try to look for a reason," added Mullins. "This is obviously a huge setback."