Faugheen returns to defend his Irish Champion crown
Faugheen will face only four rivals when he returns to action in the BHP Insurance Irish Champion Hurdle at Leopardstown on Sunday.
Off the track since trouncing his rivals in the same Grade 1 event a year ago, the 2015 Stan James Champion Hurdle winner will be joined in the line-up by stablemates Nichols Canyon and Footpad, Petit Mouchoir, the impressive winner of the Ryanair Hurdle at Leopardstown's Christmas meeting, and last year's Triumph Hurdle winner Ivanovich Gorbatov.
Pat Keogh, CEO at Leopardstown, said yesterday: "It's fantastic that Faugheen will be back to defend his crown. You'd like to see a few more runners in the race and also in the other Grade 1, the Arkle Chase [for which only four are declared].
"That can happen with the top races as there aren't that many star performers about. I think the public like seeing the big-name horses in action regardless of field sizes and Faugheen's return should be a big draw."
With Min out of action after banging a knee during the week, the the Frank Ward Solicitors Arkle Chase is a straight match between the Willie Mullins-trained pair, Bleu Et Rouge and Royal Caviar, and the Henry de Bromhead-trained duo Identity Thief and Some Plan.
"It's a pity that Min, who was very impressive at our Christmas meeting, won't be back with us on Sunday, but these things happen and, hopefully, he'll be back in action soon," Keogh said.