Ruby keen on Fakir as Samcro and Faugheen eye showdown
As the festive equine fare draws ever closer, Kempton and Leopardstown might seem to host all the four-legged stars but Limerick may yet unfurl a showdown to match its more prestigious rivals.
Samcro and Faugheen remain on course for a heavyweight clash in the upgraded Novice Chase at the Munster venue on St Stephen's Day which could add a few thousand to the gate.
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If you gave Ruby Walsh a 'Mulligan' though, he'd probably opt for Fakir D'oudairies. "He's such a thrill, a spectacular jumper," says Walsh.
Walsh was on Faugheen for 16 of his 21 hurdle wins before a heart problem soured his former mount's 2019.
The 2015 Champion Hurdle winner has now started a career over the larger obstacles at the ripe old age of 11, romping to a debut success in Punchestown last month after deftly avoiding a clash in the Drinmore with Samcro and Fakir D'oudairies.
"I see him at home and he's in really fine form," reports Walsh.
"He's a Champion Hurdle winner and he hasn't a whole lot of mileage on the clock. He's in great order. John Codd is fairly happy with him.
"As regards winning a race, chasing isn't much of a risk because you're back down to maiden status and it's the easiest way to win a race.
"Otherwise, he'd be challenging Grade One hurdlers."
But now he may not be able to avoid Fakir D'oudairies and Samcro which could renew their Fairyhouse rivalry; on that day, Samcro fell two out, handing Fakir D'oudairies the race.
"It'd be some day for Limerick," Walsh enthuses.
Like Faugheen, Samcro is another erstwhile master hurdler seeking redemption over the big brushes and despite his Fairyhouse error, there was much to admire in his efforts before splaying on landing two out.
"I'm not anti-Samcro," says Walsh. "It's hard to know if he'd win. Can he come back after an off year? Of course he can. Lots of horses have done it.
"Don Cossack did it. I'd like to see him finish his races a lot stronger before I can believe he will win again.
"He's a very good horse but can he be a brilliant horse? We don't know that yet."
Ruby Walsh was speaking at the launch of Paddy Power Media's brand new weekly podcast 'From The Horse's Mouth' which debuts on all podcast platforms from December 19