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The significance of one last hurrah for FaugheenPosted on Monday 10th September 2018 @ 10.03

Cheltenham, Champion Day 2018....the time inches closer towards 3.30pm and the crowd’s energy levels begin to pick up again.

It's always a long day at the Festival – tired feet, queues at the bars and beaten dockets all add to a sense of fatigue with the crowd as the day wears on.

The media likes to portray Cheltenham as a cauldron of noise and passion. To a point, that’s true. But the crowd needs to be fed with all that makes racing great – shocks, comebacks, returning heroes and supremely dominant performances.

There were two main protagonists before the 2018 Champion Hurdle, Buveur D'Air and Faugheen. When the race was over, however, there was only one, Nicky Henderson's two-time champion. There was a sense of deflation in the crowd, with the exception of those who had 'gone big' on Buveur D'Air. Miracles don’t always happen.

Buveur D'Air favourite for third successive Champion Hurdle

Buveur D'Air is undoubtedly a great horse, one of the best hurdlers we have seen in recent times. But, even should he win a third Champion Hurdle in 2019 (he is 7/2 ante-post favourite with 888sport), he will still not be held in as high affection as Faugheen. It’s a question of romance, not talent. Faugheen is the Alex Higgins to Steve Davis, the John McEnroe to Bjorn Borg.

That’s not to say that Faugheen spent his career an underdog, far from it. Rather it serves as a testament to the memories he gave to the fans. There was a visible will to see him recapture the lightning in a bottle, the magic that saw him become one of the greats in 2015. Indeed, has any horse of the modern era been more associated with the word 'comeback'?

There was a sense of finality after Faugheen’s defeat in the Champion Hurdle. That sense actually came before the last, as five horses, including Buveur D'Air, passed Faugheen like a slingshot. Heads, mostly Irish, were shaking among the crowds; The Machine was now finished.

Tremendous win at Punchestown for Faugheen

Horse racing, of course, doesn’t always follow the script. Around six weeks later at Punchestown, Willie Mullins put Faugheen into the Grade 1 Champion Stayers' Hurdle. Faugheen’s odds of 11/2, third favourite behind Penhill and Bacardys, smacked of 'just in case'. He had been backed down from 10/1, but it seemed the smart money would go elsewhere.

Faugheen didn't read the script. Not only did he win, he trounced Penhill, Stayers' Hurdle winner at Cheltenham, by 13 lengths. Faugheen didn't even seem to break into a sweat with his first win over 3 miles since his novice days. If anything, he looked like he had plenty left to spare as he passed the finish line.

It makes the horses betting odds for the 2019 Stayers Hurdle' required reading as we approach the start of the national hunt season. Faugheen has been made 5/1 favourite by 888sport and others, followed by Penhill (7/1), Apple’s Jade (10/1) and Supasundae (12/1). Punters are still somewhat stunned.

The significance of it cannot be underestimated. If Faugheen goes on to win the Stayers’ next year, then he will have a story to rival that of Sprinter Sacré in 2016. The thing to remember is that punters trust Willie Mullins. If the legendary Irish trainer says that Faugheen is equipped to win the Stayers’, then those odds will tumble. It will be worth keeping an eye on things through the winter, but one last tilt at the top of racing is the least that Faugheen deserves.

Article Posted on Monday 10th September 2018 @ 10.03

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Starting Gate

tipperary Walter Hennessy Auctioneer, Valuer And Estate Agent MIPAV TRV MCEI Mares Beginners Chase2m 1f 50y - £7387 - Good

1 Any Time100/1

2 Ballybrowney Walk33/1

3 Feeling The Love7/4

4 Fiveaftermidnight12/1

5 Indian Music50/1

6 Light Bulb100/1

7 Make My Heart Fly4/5

8 Rain In Spain8/1

9 Shimmer And Shine5/1

10 Slainte And Thanks20/1

curragh Irish Stallion Farms EBF Fillies Maiden (Plus 10) 6f - £10343 - Good to Firm

1 Blissful7/2

2 French Rain9/2

3 Getawiggleon80/1

4 Lady Maura8/1

5 Na Blianta Beo7/2

6 Sable Camp9/1

7 Sophelanka4/1

8 Tasalka7/1

newton abbot Tracey Harris Maiden Hurdle2m 5f 122y - £7408 - Good (Good to Firm in places)

1 Danboru4/1

2 Eden Flyer28/1

3 Marzano20/1

4 Trogir28/1

5 Velvet Revolution2/5

6 Bluebell Sally80/1

7 Cut And Run12/1

8 Miss Zip11/1

tipperary Tipperary Racecourse Beginners Chase2m 1f 50y - £7092 - Good

1 Cenotice3/1

2 Cut Em Down10/1

3 Djingle8/1

4 Everlastingpromise10/1

5 Generalisation20/1

6 Global Jackpot7/1

7 Gold Seal20/1

8 Jan Maat11/4

9 Lambs Lane100/1

10 Paris Texas33/1

11 Play The Part33/1

12 Roconga9/1

13 Vinnwarr40/1

14 Western Sea50/1

15 Pilbara66/1

redcar SkyBet Britains Most Popular Online Bookmaker EBF Novice Stakes 7f - £3881 - Good to Firm (Good in places)

1 Thunderous8/11

2 America First33/1

3 Arthur's Court9/2

4 Bodyline10/1

5 Genesius25/1

6 Grimbold33/1

7 Ingleby Command66/1

8 Saint Of Katowice9/2

9 Yorkshire Grey100/1

stratford Allan Atkinson Memorial Mares' Handicap Hurdle2m 2f 148y - £4809 - Good

1 Runasimi River16/1

2 Chilli Romance10/3

3 Milan Of Crystal16/1

4 Foxy Act14/1

5 Sense Of Urgency8/1

6 Superefficient13/8

7 Dora's Field9/2

8 Wondergirl20/1

9 All Riled Up80/1

curragh Killashee Hotel Nursery Handicap (Plus 10) 6f - £10343 - Good to Firm

1 Cool Vixen5/4

2 Latin Five10/3

3 Kocasandra8/1

4 Mogwli9/1

5 St George's Head8/1

6 Captain Corcoran14/1

newton abbot Sky Sports Racing On Sky 415 Novices' Chase2m - £11307 - Good (Good to Firm in places)

1 Caius Marcius6/5

2 Ennistown13/8

3 Capital Force10/1

4 Al Shahir10/3

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DoncasterDonate 5 Text Fly5 To 70800 Handicap

18Funny Man11/4 f
211Menin Gate16/1
32Bullion Boss7/1
Winning TrainerD O'Meara
Winning JockeyD Tudhope
Runners10 ran
Distances1 1/4 length, 3 lengths
Tote Win£3.50
Pl£1.60, £4.00, £2.40

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16Aperitif9/4 f
21Dandyman Port10/1
311Red Allure16/1
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Pl£1.60, £3.60, £5.10

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22Autumn War5/2
33Freerolling2/1 f
Winning TrainerC W Fairhurst
Winning JockeyJ Fanning
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Pl£3.30, £1.80

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19Spirit Power14/1
27Somewhere Secret3/1
35Louis Treize7/2
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Winning JockeyPhil Dennis
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Pl£4.70, £1.60, £1.50

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13Kaeso5/1 f
28Ventura Ocean22/1
37Breath Of Air12/1
Winning TrainerN Tinkler
Winning JockeyHollie Doyle
Runners11 ran
Distances2 lengths, 1 3/4 length
Tote Win£5.70
Pl£2.30, £6.20, £3.80

HaydockDavid Farrell 40th Birthday Handicap

14Follow Intello4/1
Winning TrainerC F Wall
Winning JockeyJack Mitchell
Runners9 ran
Distances1 length, 3/4 length
Tote Win£4.90
Pl£1.80, £3.20, £2.70

DoncasterKeeping Hope Alive Novice Stakes (Plus 10)

19Stone Circle11/2
Winning TrainerM L W Bell
Winning JockeyD Tudhope
Runners9 ran
Distances1/2 length, 1/2 length
Tote Win£6.20
Pl£1.90, £2.20, £4.20

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316Remmy D16/1
Winning TrainerR A Fahey
Winning JockeyConnor Murtagh
Runners11 ran
DistancesNeck, 3/4 length
Tote Win£5.80
Pl£2.30, £5.10