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The rise of Faugheen

The rise of Faugheen

On the 2nd May 2008, Faugheen was foaled. The foal was soon sent to the Tattersalls Ireland Sales, Faugheen was bought by Peter Quinlan for 4000 euros. In 2011 Peter Quinlan’s brother Tom sent the three-year-old to the Goffs National Hunt Sale, Faugheen was again purchased for 12000 euros by the Meadowview Stables. Faugheen was first seen in the colours of Thomas Hassett, trained by Andrew Slattery in a point to point; the very raw horse won in some style impressing everyone there that day. After an impressive first race, Faugheen soon changed ownership, Rich and Susannah Ricci were the proud new owners of Faugheen, in the summer of 2012 Faugheen was sent to train with Willie Mullins. Mullins was delighted with Faugheen and after only one weeks training Mullins said Faugheen “was held in high regard.” In 2013, Mullins was that impressed with Faugheen he was entered in the Champion Bumper, without ever setting foot on a racecourse.
On the 17th November Ruby Walsh was aboard Faugheen for the first time as he made his jump debut, winning at Punchestown by three lengths. In early 2014 Faugheen was entered into the Baring Bingham Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham, the first time in a Grade 1 race, this would be the first test of how good Faugheen was. Again with Walsh in the saddle, Faugheen was tracking the leaders for the first lap, as they turned for home Walsh asked Faugheen to go for home and the results brought the crowd to their feet. Faugheen left the field in his wake, to win a Grade 1 at the first time of asking. Walking back to the winner’s enclosure Ruby Walsh was asked about Faugheen’s ride that day, all Walsh could say was “He’s just a machine, a machine.” A nickname that has now stuck. The last time we saw Faugheen, that season was at Punchestown in the Grade 1 Herald Champion Novice Hurdle. Like his first run, at this level Faugheen took no prisoners leading from start finish, to end the season in style.

The 2015 season started the way the 2014 season had ended for Faugheen, winning the Ascot Hurdle. Faugheen would then head to Kempton on Boxing Day for the Christmas Hurdle. Faugheen started odds-on favourite and like before Faugheen just swept them all aside, winning by eight lengths. The bookies instantly made Faugheen favourite for the Cheltenham Champion Hurdle, but many in the racing world disagreed with the short price. As Faugheen would now be taking on The New One, who is unbeaten since winning the Champion Hurdle in 2014 and Hurricane Fly the dual champion and Jezki. Ruby Walsh had always ridden Hurricane Fly, but the jockey had also ridden Faugheen for the last year. Now their paths would cross Willie Mullins, and Ruby Walsh would have a tough decision to make. Neither were saying a lot in the run up to Cheltenham that year, until the week before when Ruby Walsh dropped the bombshell that he would ride Faugheen over Hurricane Fly. It would be the first time at Cheltenham that Walsh wouldn’t be onboard Fly, ”It was a big call not to ride Hurricane Fly. When you see what Hurricane Fly was doing at home, it was a big call to get off him" Walsh said.
As they set off in the 2015 Champion Hurdle no one wanted to make the running for Faugheen, so he was forced to do it himself. After clipping the first few jumps Faugheen soon settled into the race, and it was evident why Walsh had picked Faugheen. Walsh was just cantering on the favorite, as they turned for home Walsh asked his superstar to go, and go Faugheen did leaving the pack in his wake to win the Champion Hurdle.

Faugheen then went to Punchestown and again swept all aside to win the Punchestown Champion Hurdle, to take his career record to 11 from 11 runs.
We then didn’t seem Faugheen until November when he was the 1/6 favorite for the Morgiana Hurdle. Faugheen was disappointingly beaten by stablemate Nichols Canyon, as both Mullins and Walsh said “It was just a bad day at the office”.
Mullins again took Faugheen back to Kempton for the Christmas Hurdle, and the Superstar bounced back from Punchestown by smashing the field including Nichols Canyon.
In early 2016 Faugheen was the 1/3 favorite for the Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown. Once again Walsh cantered round to land the prize as no one in the field looked like getting near the star.

Faugheen was named the Irish Horse of the Year for 2015, and it’s hard to see anyone beating him unless he has a bad day. Heading to this year's Cheltenham Festival, it’s hard to back against him. Faugheen genuinely looks like a racing star that could be up there with the like of Kauto Star.