Leopardstown: Faugheen expected to win Irish Champion Hurdle, says owner Rich Ricci

Faugheen
Faugheen has won 13 of his 15 career races

Owner Rich Ricci expects Faugheen to regain the Irish Champion Hurdle title at Leopardstown on 3 February - despite being pulled up at the same track over Christmas.

The 10-year-old's defeat as favourite in the Ryanair Hurdle left trainer Willie Mullins mystified, but he returns at the Dublin Racing Festival.

"Faugheen is fine. I expect him to run well and win," said Ricci.

Faugheen, nicknamed 'The Machine', won the 2015 Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham.

Before his defeat last month, he had won 13 of his 14 races, including the 2016 Irish Champion Hurdle.

"At the moment, it's all systems go for next weekend," said Ricci, speaking at the launch of the Betbright Cup, a competition between Britain and Ireland for the most winners at the Cheltenham Festival in March.

"Fingers crossed, he's got some questions to answer, that's for sure.

"Nothing's come to light so I hope it was down to a cold or an off day. I take some comfort that around that time some of Willie's [runners] were in and out."

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