Faugheen ready for next step

29 December 2017 21:38:37 GMTPlus11

Faugheen aims to take the 'next step' towards the Champion Hurdle as he runs in the Grade One Ryanair Hurdle (14:30) at Leopardstown on Friday.

The two-mile kingpin at Cheltenham in 2015, Faugheen is being primed for a return to the Cotswolds in the spring and a potential blockbuster clash with current Champion Hurdler Buveur D'air.

The Nicky Henderson runner emphasised his well-being with a smooth success in Kempton's Christmas Hurdle on Boxing Day and now Faugheen will aim to follow suit.

Faugheen returned from 665 days off the course to win the Morgiana Hurdle at Punchestown in good style last month. He faces just four rivals at Leopardstown and is 1.18 to make it two-from-two for the season.

Patrick Mullins, assistant trainer to his father Willie, says all is well with 'The Machine' as he looks to take a big step towards Prestbury Park by winning at a track he knows well.

"All is good with Faugheen and he came out of Punchestown very well," Mullins Jnr told PA Sport. "He was ready to go at Punchestown and, like we said before, we didn't give him a very long summer break.

"We just want to get him to Cheltenham in one piece and if he did what he did at Punchestown we would be very happy.

"He went well around Leopardstown before and he probably put up one of his best ever performances at the track when he won the Irish Champion Hurdle there.

"It looks a good opportunity for him and hopefully he will take another step down the road towards Cheltenham."

Faugheen, unbeaten in two Cheltenham Festival runs, is 7.00 to regain the Champion Hurdle crown in March, while Buveur D'air is 1.66 to defend his crown.

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