The big question surrounding Faugheen was “could the horse return to anything like his best following his lengthy lay off”? He had been side lined for 665 days with many people wondering whether the now 9-year-old Thoroughbred would retain the ability that earned him the nickname ‘the Machine’. The 2015 Champion hurdle winner could not have been more impressive as he dispatched a fairly high-class field with another former champion hurdler left trailing in his wake. The Machine is back.

Before the recent Morgiana Hurdle he was the relative 5/1 second favourite for the Champion hurdle in March but was slashed into around 9/4 post race. The latest horse racing betting on the horse has now meant that Betfair make him their 13/8 favourite. The only reasonable threat currently seems to be the 2017 winner Buveur Dair. Betfair make the horse 7/2 to defend his crown. However, if Faugheen doesn’t have the dreaded bounce factor, then you can expect him to take all the beating.

Following his recent victory aboard Faugheen, Paul Townend said ‘He was deadly, unbelievable – he looks as good as ever. He’s a very, very good horse’. You would have to think the horse has maintained most of its ability to give that kind of a feel to a jockey. If Faugheen gets to the race without injury he will be a very short price.

When you look at the career of Faugheen it is almost unblemished having only been defeated on his comeback run in 2015 by stablemate Nichols Canyon. This was a shock to all at the time, but in hindsight the stable did believe the horse could have done with a little longer before making his reappearance. He has an RPR high of 177 for his victory against another stablemate in Artic Fire by 15 lengths in the Irish Champion hurdle back in 2016. That was his last run prior to this lengthy layoff.

Sired by Germany, the Mullins trained star has now amassed £738,520 in prize money for connections in his 14 starts. With a rating of 176 by Time form in 2008, Faugheen can now be talked about as one of the all-time great hurdlers. Without his injury could he of eclipsed the greats in Sea Pigeon, Persian War and Monksfield of the 1960/70’s. Or even the mighty Istabraq from more recent times who was a 3 time Champion hurdle winner with a time form high of 180 following his victory in the 1992 edition of the race.

Faugheen has always been a fairly flashy horse with the way he wins his races, which was shown in his first start for connections in an Irish national hunt flat race where he won by 22 lengths over the now Henderson trained Josses Hill at odds of 11/8. Following this, Faugheen continued to improve throughout 2013 and 2014 beating all before him and stamping his authority over the division. A prime example of this is when he won the Neptune on the second day of the Cheltenham festival with relative ease by 4 and a half lengths.

From then on he has been talked about as one of the most exciting horses in training. He was part of the battalion that nearly cost the bookmakers millions prior to the fall of Annie Power at the 2015 Festival. This year was also Faugheen’s one and only Champion hurdle

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