Faugheen on course for Punchestown return on Sunday

Star hurdler all set for return

Tommy Callaghan

Reporter:

Tommy Callaghan

Email:

tommy.callaghan@leinsterleader.ie

Faugheen on course for Punchestown return on Sunday

Ruby Walsh and Faugheen

Rich Ricci has confirmed that his brilliant hurdler Faugheen is on course to make his much anticipated return to racing this Sunday in the for the Morgiana Hurdle

The 2015 Champion Hurdler has been absent since January of last year but is on course to line up in the first Grade 1 hurdle race of the season as he heads a list of eight entries for the prestigious race. 

Richi Ricci’s 9-year-old has won 12 of his 13 outings and the owner confirmed “fingers crossed, he will run on Sunday” adding “we have some unfinished business in the Morgiana Hurdle.”

“He won’t have run for 600 days but getting him back and seeing him fit and well would be wonderful and great for the people of Ireland to be able to go to Punchestown and see him. He’s a lovely horse and he is something special so we are looking forward to getting him back on Sunday and building on that.” 

Faugheen’s only ever defeat came in the Morgiana Hurdle of 2015 when beaten by stable companion Nichols Canyon and the eight time Grade 1 winner is included in the entires for a possible hat-trick in the race. 

Yorkhill and Vroum Vroum Mag make up a very strong entry for champion trainer Willie Mullins, while last month’s Tipperary winner Jezki is also in the potential line up for Sunday’s feature race and is one of two potential runners for owner JP McManus who’s Campeador may return to Punchestown after making a winning return last month. 

His trainer Gordon Elliott said; “At the moment Campeador definitely runs. We were delighted with him at Punchestown the last day and to get his head back in front and Sunday will be a step up for him again but we’ll know where we are going for the season after that. Apple’s Jade was left in the race but she only ran Sunday and I wouldn’t say she’ll run.”

November Handicap winner Swamp Fox completes the entires for Joe Murphy and there is a cracking support card at Punchestown on Sunday with the Grade 2 Liam & Valerie Florida Peal Novice Chase looking a vintage renewal including Gordon Elliott’s Death Duty. 

Pat Kelly’s Cheltenham Festival winner Presenting Percy is also among the five-day acceptors for the Florida Pearl Novice Chase while in the Ryans Cleaning Craddockstown Novice Chase owners Gigginstown House Stud hold a strong hand with four of the eight entries including Henry de Bromhead’s two-time chase winner Calino D’airy. 

The Frontline Security Grabel Mares Hurdle is the feature on Saturday’s Punchestown card with 10 mares going forward for the listed contest including the Cheltenham Festival winner Let’s Dance. 

The Punchestown Winter Festival takes place Saturday and Sunday November 18 and 19. In addition to two days of top class racing there will be free family fun, live music after racing, Race & Dine packages and complimentary coach transfers to Naas after racing. A direct transfer service from Dublin city centre is also available for both days