Mullins ace Faugheen given three chase entries at the Cheltenham Festival

The 12-year-old is in line for his fifth festival appearance at Cheltenham this spring

Friday, January 24, 2020
Faugheen and Patrick Mullins in action

Faugheen and Patrick Mullins in action

Dual Cheltenham Festival hero Faugheen, who will bid to become a rare double-digit-aged novice chase winner in March, was on Thursday entered in three races during jump racing's biggest week, writes James Burn.

Now 12, Faugheen won what is known as the Ballymore Novices' Hurdle in 2014 before capturing the Champion Hurdle a year later.

Injury kept him off the track from January 2016 until the November the following year when he won the Morgiana Hurdle at Punchestown. After that he lost some of his brilliance, despite another Grade 1 victory over three miles at the 2018 Punchestown festival.

He failed to win in four outings last season, but has been reinvented as a chaser this term, winning at Punchestown in November before landing a Limerick Grade 1 over Christmas.

Owned by Rich and Susannah Ricci, the Willie Mullins-trained superstar is in line for his fifth festival appearance at Cheltenham this spring and featured among 53 entries for the RSA Insurance Novices' Chase on Thursday.

The 11-year-old Birthlaw, who struck in 1946, is the oldest winner of that race, while Faugheen was also entered in the Marsh Novices' Chase, the new name for the JLT that has been dominated by six- and seven-year-olds in its brief history.

The popular gelding is also in the National Hunt Chase, which is kinder to older horses, with Flimsy Truth the last horse of that age to score in 1997.

The amateur race was the source of much controversy last year, resulting in several races including a shortened distance, and has attracted 61 entries, seven fewer than last year's tally.

Faugheen's highly regarded stablemate Laurina is also in the Marsh and RSA.

The latter is seemingly the only option over fences for the Nicky Henderson-trained Champ, who fell in the Dipper at Cheltenham this month when bidding to put the final touches to his festival preparation.

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