Ruby's warning to rivals - Faugheen is 'improving'
Faugheen is poised to return to action at Punchestown on Sunday as Willie Mullins gradually begins to unleash his marquee names.
The unbeaten reigning Champion Hurdler is already as short as 1/8 with one bookmaker to make a successful reappearance in the Morgiana Hurdle.
Of the eight entries for the €85,000 two-miler, Mullins is responsible for four, with the brilliant mare Annie Power and four-time Grade One-winning novice Nichols Canyon also still engaged, along with Wicklow Brave.
"Faugheen will run in the Stanjames.com Morgiana at Punchestown next Sunday," Mullins confirmed. "My horses were probably just a gallop short given the dry conditions of late, but they should be spot on come the Punchestown winter festival".
Ruby Walsh, who has steered Faugheen to eight of his 10 track wins, suggested that the seven-year-old might even be getting better.
"Faugheen is improving all the time," said Walsh (right). "He's fairly rock solid and an easy horse to ride. It's that exciting time of the year when the good horses start to reappear so fingers crossed they'll run well and start winning with a bit of luck".
Of the potential rivals on ratings, Tony Martin's Thomas Edison and Henry de Bromhead's Identity Thief are the closest to the market leader, though the fact that Thomas Edison has 24lbs to find is indicative of the task at hand.
Another classy Mullins contender that could reappear on Sunday is Bellshill, which beat last weekend's impressive Naas winner Disko and the Champion Bumper runner-up Modus when winning in Grade One company at Punchestown in the spring. The Kings Theatre five-year-old is entered in a two-mile maiden hurdle at Cork.
Meanwhile, Tipperary handler Tim Doyle has said that stable star Mallowney will run in tomorrow's Clonmel Oil Chase, with Andrew Lynch set to stand in for the injured Davy Russell.
"Clonmel is the plan," Doyle said of his mud-loving nine-year-old, a seven-time career winner. "We just hope the rain keeps coming and the ground is on the easy side. He's in great form and we're looking forward to the winter. Andrew Lynch will ride him."
Mullins's Felix Yonger, which won the Grade One that Mallowney was last seen finishing fourth in at Punchestown, is also engaged in the Grade Two, as is Noel Meade's Gold Cup third, Road To Riches.