Monday 20 August 2018

Faugheen rolls back the years

Stable star helps bring up Mullins' century of winners at Punchestown to extend lead in trainers' title race

David Mullins rides Faugheen clear over the last to win The Champion Stayers Hurdle at Punchestown. Photo: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images
David Mullins rides Faugheen clear over the last to win The Champion Stayers Hurdle at Punchestown. Photo: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

Michael Verney

Faugheen added further proof of Willie Mullins' training brilliance as the former Champion Hurdler became a Champion Stayer when running away with the feature race on day three of the Punchestown Festival.

The 'Machine' turned the €275,000 Champion Stayers Hurdle into a procession in the hands of the trainer's nephew David Mullins to roll back the years as the ten-year-old spearheaded a 117/1 treble for the Closutton maestro.

Mullins finished the day on an astonishing 102 Punchestown Festival career winners - 12 so far for the week - but few will have given him more excitement than Faugheen, while it was a change in fortune for owner Rich Ricci after a frustrating season.

"It has been a tough old season for Faugheen and for us. It is nice to have a change of luck and he seemed to love it today," a jubilant Ricci said.

"Willie had called in the week and said, 'He is not working very well, I want to run him in three-miler rather than two-miler.' I said that is fine as I did not want him to disgrace himself. He certainly didn't."

Jockey David Mullins added: "Faugheen for me, and I've not been racing that long, is the best horse I've ever seen on his day. It just took three miles and a bit of give in the ground for him to show it."

Mullins, who started the day just €48,161 ahead of title rival Gordon Elliott, all but wrapped up his 12th Irish trainers' championship after the Meath trainer could only muster one winner yesterday.

His lead at the head of affairs is now €424,148 after another profitable day and, while it was always going to be difficult to match Wednesday's sensational six-timer, he made a good fist of it.

The brilliant Footpad enhanced his growing reputation with another scintillating display in the Ryanair Novice Chase while Cadmium completed the treble on another memorable day for Mullins.

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