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Faugheen has surgery to remove growth in groin ‘the size of a mandarin orange’

A hero's return: the huge crowd welcome back Faugheen to the winner's enclosure after his Punchestown success
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Faugheen had a growth in the groin area the size of a mandarin orange removed on Wednesday, his trainer Willie Mullins reported.

The hugely popular ten-year-old was one of many big stories at the Punchestown festival last week, when bouncing back to form with an impressive win in the Champion Stayers Hurdle, but any prospect of seeing him on a racecourse again soon has evaporated with news of his operation.

Mullins, who has saddled Rich Ricci's horse to nine Grade 1 victories, said on Wednesday evening: "Faugheen was sore behind after his win at Punchestown and was inflamed around his groin area.

Pride and joy: connections of Faugheen pose for the cameras after his Stayers Hurdle victory

"We thought it might have been a muscle problem, but further examination revealed that there was a growth about the size of a mandarin orange.

"It must have been there for some time and it possibly explains his in-and-out form during the season.

"He underwent surgery at Fethard Veterinary Clinic today and came out of it successfully."

The trainer added: "We thought about sending him to Auteuil for the French Champion Hurdle, but obviously that won't be happening now.

"He'll be going on his holidays and should be back, hopefully as good as ever, later in the year."

Having been off the track since winning the Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown in January 2016, Faugheen returned to action at Punchestown last November, winning the Morgiana Hurdle by 16 lengths.

However, the rest of his campaign was a mixed bag. He flopped and was pulled up in the Ryanair Hurdle at Leopardstown's Christmas meeting before finishing second to Supasundae in the Irish Champion Hurdle in February.

He finished sixth behind Buveur D'Air in the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham in March , before being upped to three miles for the first time since 2013 at Punchestown.

That appeared to do the trick as he made all under David Mullins to beat stablemate Penhill – who had previously won the Stayers' Hurdle at Cheltenham – by 13 lengths.

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It must have been there for some time and it possibly explains his in-and-out form during the season
E.W. Terms