Nine-time Grade One winner Faugheen is making his belated chase debut in the 12.50pm Naas Oil Beginners Chase at Punchestown on Saturday. We’ll be covering this meeting, as well as the action on ITV from Cheltenham and Lingfield with our Horse Racing Tips.
Willie Mullins’ stable star of yesteryear has been far from his peerless best in recent seasons having won his first ten starts under rules.
He did show he still retained plenty of enthusiasm for the game when winning the Punchestown Stayers’ Hurdle in April 2018 and when finishing third at Cheltenham in March.
This is his first start since being pulled up early on at Aintree where he had a irregular heart beat. Mullins is not one to race his stars for the sake of it, so he must be in fine form back at Closutton. They’ll be hoping he can do what his stablemate Douvan did and return to action with a win. Here’s the lowdown –
Faugheen faces sixteen rivals in this two-miles-four contest on soft ground. Whilst none of them would be capable of mixing it with him if he were at his best, there are a fair few contenders who have shown plenty already over fences.
The most dangerous of them is surely Gordon Elliott’s Flawless Escape. He chased home a stablemate on his return this autumn before falling last time out when only narrowly behind the now 151 rated Champagne Classic. A clear round of jumping would see him go close.
The same yard’s Glenloe was beaten just a neck in the Pertemps in 2018. He posted solid efforts over fences twice in January, beaten eleven-lengths by the now 160 rated Real Steel at Fairyhouse last time out.
Midnight Stroll similarly went well behind some classy sorts when last seen. The seven-year-old finished fourth to Festival winners A Plus Tard and Duc Des Genievres and finished ahead of one who’s since placed in a Grade Three.
Henry De Bromhead’s Dommage Pour Toi never got a chance to show what he was capable of on chase debut, brought down at the first fence. He won a Grade Two over timber as a novice so could well develop into a useful chaser.
There’s a couple of other chase debutants worthy of note. Owner’s mate Antey is having his first start since completing a double over timber in the spring of 2018. He looks one to follow this season.
Connections have wasted no time sending Walk Away over fences. De Bromhead’s charge is having just his fourth run under rules. An easy winner of a point and a maiden hurdle last year, he was far from disgraced in two Grade Ones at the spring festivals.
A fully firing Faugheen would win this doing hand stands. It’s unlikely we’ll see that given his age of eleven and his more recent form which has been intermittent.
Plenty of recent evidence suggests that he’s a still class above today’s opposition though, posting an RPR of 162 when finishing third in the Stayers’ Hurdle in March. He’s performed with credit in his two recent seasonal reappearance also, winning the Morgiana by sixteen lengths in 2017 and only finding stablemate Sharjah too good in the same race last year.
He’s fully capable of jumping a fence. Faugheen won his only point in 2012, and he only fell in one of his twenty one starts over timber.
Connections will no doubt be confident of a big run from the star. They showed they are more than capable of readying a veteran when Douvan landed the Clonmel Oil on Thursday with the minimum of fuss.