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Willie Mullins and Rich Ricci yet to confirm Faugheen plan ahead of Cheltenham

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Faugheen is likely to run at Cheltenham after a strong performance at the recent Dublin Racing Festival. Photo by Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

Faugheen is likely to run at Cheltenham after a strong performance at the recent Dublin Racing Festival. Photo by Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

SPORTSFILE

Faugheen is likely to run at Cheltenham after a strong performance at the recent Dublin Racing Festival. Photo by Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

Faugheen is by no means a certain runner at next month's Cheltenham Festival.

The trainer of 'The People's Champion', Willie Mullins, revealed at a pre-Cheltenham media event at his stables that no decision had been made on where the 12-year-old runs next.

"Rich Ricci, the horse's owner, must have heard this gathering was on this morning, because he texted me last night to say we hadn't had a chat about the plans for this horse and one other.

"And that's right, we haven't spoken about it, we just wanted to enjoy what happened after Leopardstown and the Dublin Racing Festival, where Faugheen got that great welcome after winning."

Mullins revealed that he had rarely been as emotional on a racecourse as after the 12-year-old won the Grade One Flogas Novice Chase.

"I don't normally get worked up on a racecourse, but I did that day. To see what the people thought of the horse, and after all his injuries and absences, they clearly love Faugheen," he said.

So does Mullins and that may be why he is non-committal about going to the highlight of the jumping season.

"We'll see. The Marsh Chase, on the Thursday, is the obvious race for him if he does go. But we've still to sort that out."

The other horse Mullins and Ricci must discuss is Benie des Dieux, who is favourite for the Mares Hurdle, could run in the Stayers Hurdle and might yet be added to the field for the Champion Hurdle.

When that chat comes around, Mullins made no secret of the fact that he will favour going to the Mares Hurdle. "Benie and I have unfinished business with that race," said Ireland's Champion Trainer, a reference to her fall at the last hurdle in the race last year when she had only to jump it to win.

"That looks the race for her, she's a wonderful mare and, by only racing her two or three times a season, we think we can get a few more years out of her yet.

"She had a few injuries, and if she hadn't, we might have been able to stay steeplechasing with her and I believe that Benie des Dieux would have been a Gold Cup horse. She's that good."

Online Editors