WATCH: Supasundae lowers Faugheen's colours to land the Irish Champion Hurdle
Supasundae (8/1) ripped up the script to take the BHP Insurances Irish Champion Hurdle but trainer Jessica Harrington has stressed that there is no immediate plan to supplement the eight-year-old for the Cheltenham equivalent next month with the Stayer's Hurdle over three miles his intended target.
As a result of Faugheen's performance, reigning Champion Hurdler hero Buveur D'Air – won cantered home in the Contender's Hurdle at Sandown today – has hardened in the market and is a 2/5 favourite (from 4/6) while Faugheen has drifted from 11/4 to 6/1.
Faugheen was sent off the 9/10 favourite to get his career back on track after blowing out during the Christmas festival but although the 2015 Champion Hurdle winner was much more like his old self this time around – and led for most of the way – he could never shake off the classy and gutsy Supasundae who breathed down his neck all the way before striding away after the last to win by two and a quarter lengths.
Supasundae was a brave runner-up to Apple’s Jade in the three-mile Grade 1 at Christmas and despite his primary objective being to sharpen up before a tilt at Cheltenham – where he won the Coral Cup last year – and winning jockey Robbie Power was over the moon with his display.
“He’s a fantastic horse and he has improved a hell of a lot – the better ground helped him I’d say," he said. "The most pleasing thing today was his jumping, he’s never jumped like that in his life. And Faugheen is not easy to get past and ran a cracking race – so this is special.”
Harrington added: “Robbie was sure when he had Faugheen in his sights at the last hurdle that he’d stay all the way. I came here as a prep run for the 3m hurdle at Cheltenham – that’s some prep run.
"He’s only in the 3m hurdle at Cheltenham so that’s where he’s going. He does not like soggy ground and comes to his own in the spring.”
Rich Ricci, owner of Faugheen, couldn’t hide his disappointment. “Faugheen is ten after all. He ran well, just didn’t win, whatever the reason I don’t know. He was better than the last day – but no real answers.”
Gordon Elliott, trainer of third horse home Mick Jazz (8/1), revealed an ambitious plan for his Christmas Grade 1 winner.
“I’m absolutely delighted with that, couldn’t be happier. He’ll go for the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham and then the American Grand National.”